Brazil’s nightmare gets worse: Argentina to play for World Cup title

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“A bad week for Brazil just got worse. There’s not much that could make the humiliation of Tuesday’s 7-1 defeat to Germany feel even grimmer, but Argentina winning the World Cup at the Maracana would be unbearable. The holiest of the holies has already been defiled once, by Uruguay in 1950, but that would be nothing to the desecration of seeing Lionel Messi and his side celebrating there on Sunday. Whether that’s likely is another matter. Argentina will go into the final as the underdog, and understandably so, given the respective performances in the semifinals, but it will not capitulate against Germany as Brazil did. This may be a limited side, but it is one with great character and spirit, a cold-eyed willingness to get the job done.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Argentina 0-0 Netherlands: Argentina through on penalties
“Sergio Romero was the hero after an extremely uneventful 120 minutes. Alejandro Sabella brought back Marcos Rojo after suspension, while Enzo Perez deputised for the injured Angel di Maria. Louis van Gaal was able to bring back Nigel de Jong after injury, meaning Daley Blind moved across to wing-back in place of Memphis Depay. There was obviously great tension here, but not much happened – of the 62 games at this World Cup so far, this game featured the lowest shot rate, and the lowest percentage of touches in the opposition third.” Zonal Marking

After Long Stalemate, Argentina Breaks Through in Shootout
“Regulation and extra time brought 120 minutes of scoreless exasperation in a World Cup semifinal on Wednesday that was by turns tense, cautious, clumsy, gripping and stubbornly unyielding. There was little space to move, few chances to score. Sometimes the match was as dreary as the misty evening chill. If it possessed any beauty, it was not in gracefulness but in stark, struggling exertion. And finally, when grind and strain and labor could not bring a resolution, whimsy and caprice did. Argentina defeated the Netherlands by 4-2 on penalty kicks and advanced to Sunday’s final against Germany.” NY Times

Netherlands 0 Argentina 0 (Argentina win 4-2 on penalties)
“Argentina will meet Germany in Sunday’s World Cup final at the Maracana after winning a penalty shootout to eliminate the Netherlands.After 120 tedious and goalless minutes that were in stark contrast to the spectacular shock of the first semi-final between Brazil and the Germans, Argentina prevailed and a repeat of the 1986 and 1990 finals – when they played West Germany – will be played out in Rio. Goalkeeper Sergio Romero was the hero with penalty saves from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder, while opposite number Jasper Cillessen was unable to repeat the feats of his deputy, Tim Krul, in the quarter-final win against Costa Rica.” BBC

World Cup Pass & Move: Semi-Charmed Lives
“Two semifinal matches, one penalty shootout, one plain old one-sided shootout. As the World Cup draws to a close, we look at some of the characters who made the semifinal round so wonderful, weird, glorious, ponderous, and heartbreaking.” Grantland

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