This has been one of the best World Cup's that anyone can remember, and yesterday threw out yet another reminder of how great the knockout stages can be. The pre tournament favorite and host nation Brazil were slowed by injuries to Thiago Silva and Neymar but no one expected the complete capitulation that occurred after the second goal for Germany. Outplayed and out thought, the Brazilians attacked naively in an attempt to pull a goal back and were summarily cut to pieces by the ruthless Germans. By the time the half arrived, the contest was over and an entire nation was in a state of shock.
Lost in the fact that history was made yesterday is the fact that the second semifinal will be played today. Argentina plays Holland at 4pm to see who
has gets to take on the Germans in the final. The Argentine squad hasn't been the attacking presence that people thought, relying instead on a defense that has allowed only three goals in five games. Argentina will need to score to win, though, and that task will be made harder with the loss of the live wire from Real Madrid, Angel di Maria, who is out with a leg injury. Argentina could risk Sergio Aguero, also nursing injury, off the bench if they need a goal. No matter what happens, Lionel Messi will be lurking. The Dutch will surely feel they need at least a three goal margin to be safe from more Messi magic.
Not that scoring goals would seem to be an issue for Holland. Until their quarterfinal stalemate against Costa Rica, the Netherlands had been ripping holes in basically everyone they played. Led by Arjen Robben, who is supported quite ably by Robin van Persie and Wesley Sniejder, the Dutch have scored 12 in five games thus far. That attack will be the one that comes after the Argentina defense that has been much better than anyone expected. RvP is potentially ill for this game, but that could just mean that Klaas Jan Huntelaar finally gets his chance to start for his national team.