After surprises and disappointments in previous stages, we were treated by breathtaking footballs in the quarter final. Uruguay managed to beat Ghana with a penalty shoot-out after controversial hand ball by Suarez saved them from elimination. Netherlands beat Brazil with a 2-1 win after trailed 0-1 at half time. Germany again performed a master piece football, beating everyone favorite – Argentina with an outstanding 4-0 win. Spain scraped through Paraguay with a 1-0 win in a controversial match with 2 missed penalties.
I was really impressed by the performance of the Germans. I wrote previously that if they can beat Argentina in the next match – which they did, Germany will certainly be the most favorite contender. They didn’t only beat Argentina, but they beat them handsomely. No question about that win. Just like when they beat England, they repeated those fast counter attacks again. Mueller started the blitzkrieg with a header from Schweinsteiger’s free kick in the first half. This young striker operating as winger added his goal tally to four in his first ever World Cup. A remarkable achievement considering his young age.
Then they survived Argentina wave after wave of attacks. Messi, Tevez and Higuain – all top scorers for their respective clubs, couldn’t score a goal in that match.
Neuer, Germany goalkeeper performed several outstanding saves. Then in the second half, German came out even better. Muller passed the ball while on the ground to Podolski, who then crossed to Klose for a tap in, 2-0. Schweinsteiger capped his extraordinary display on 75 minutes with a delightful run past Di Maria, Javier Pastore and Higuain to pull the ball back for Arne Freidrich, who then scored his first goal for his nation, 3-0. And the match capped by Ozil – the future little Mozart (I wish), dashing down the left, chipped a beautiful cross into Klose who volleyed home, 4-0. Awesome performance by the youngest ever Germany squad since 1930 (see table to know how young these lads are).
Young and dangerous, fast and furious, those were labels for this German team that I tweeted on the match day.
Argentina had been overwhelmed and all Englishmen knew how they felt. Neutrals who watched this mesmerizing performance from the Germans should be happy if not hysteric. Maradona who spoke to television before the match, mocking Schweinsteiger with a taunt, “Are you nervous, Schweinsteiger?” finally found his answer. It must be Maradona himself who was nervous, watching his team bombarded by this young Germany. Even God couldn’t help this time.
If the German played football as good as Mozart’s masterpieces, the Dutch couldn’t resurrect Rinus Michels Total Football. They won with an own goal by Brazil’s Melo and a header from Sneijder from corner kick. Melo dismissed by the referee after violence conduct, notably after successfully provoked by Robben. Nevertheless, the Dutch had a remarkable performance in the second half after trailing 1-0 at half time. Their midfields, De Jong and Van Bommel performed again outstandingly. Ooijer who made mistake in the first half paid it with outstanding performance in second half. Stekelenburg, Dutch goalkeeper again had a good match. He lives up to the expectation as Van der Sar replacement. Netherlands then wasted two to three clear chances in the later part of the second half to put the win beyond doubt. Still an efficient and solid performance by Netherlands that sent Brazil home should be congratulated considering their records against Brazil.
Spain and Uruguay didn’t have a convincing win. Spain still struggle to repeat their best form in Euro 2008. Torres failed to perform, but their possession football meant Paraguay couldn’t pose a threat to their goal. Luckily they had the prolific David Villa. Again combining with his new partners, Xavi and Iniesta, Villa scored his fifth goal of the tournament. Cesc Fabregas introduction to the game did help to alter Spanish tippy-tappy to be a more direct game. His pass to Villa resulted in a penalty kick. Hopefully his performance could persuade Del Bosque to start him at their next match.
Uruguay escaped from elimination with their best luck, a hand ball from Suarez on goal line – which resulted in a missed penalty by Ghana, provided them the lifeline to bring the game to a successful penalty shoot out. Ghana disappointed the whole African continent, failed to be the first African team ever to reach the semi-final.
So semi-final here we come. Tonight Netherlands will face Uruguay and tomorrow Germany will face Spain. Netherlands should not repeat their usual self destruction habit during later stages of tournament. They shouldn’t underestimate Uruguay. If they could replicate their performance against Brazil, I believe they will win this match. This could be the time for the Dutch to elevate their game one level higher. Robin Van Persie should be able to perform link play better with Sneijder and Robben. He should play as a better false nine just like his performance with Arsenal. Finger crossed he will score in this game.
Germany now is everyone favorite to win the tournament. Will they be able to get revenge for the defeat to Spain at Euro 2008? Will the counter attack football prevail over possession football? It will be a very interesting, mouth watering match. We might watch the resurrection of Barcelona versus Bayern Muenchen match. Though this Germany team might be much faster than Muenchen, and this could be the most important factor that determines the outcome of this match. My heart goes for Fabregas for this match but I don’t think he will start so I tip Germany to win this match. Their football have been lovely to watch that we would like to watch one more time in the final – against Netherlands of course, my forever favorite international team.