Daily Cup Check: Day 22

 The Argentine answer to Sloth Kong (theguardian.com)

The Argentine answer to Sloth Kong (theguardian.com)

We have our final four, and much like Thom Yorke demanded there are no surprises. How did we get here? Glad you asked, David Byrne. Any other frontmen we can include? Let’s find out…

Saturday’s Games

Argentina 1 – Belgium 0

In the previews before the tournament, I said it felt like this was a tournament too early for the Belgians. Boy did it look it yesterday, much as it has the whole tournament.

They just looked caught in between the whole time, unless given the floor without resistance like the US did. They didn’t know if they were supposed to be an unholy creative force, or a lightning-quick counter attacking outfit, or something in between. And then it just always ended in a poor cross from De Bruyne.

Against a defense that featured De Michellis, the Belgians could barely muster a threat. That’s saying something.

Not that the Argentines have looked all that swift themselves, but yesterday was at least a demonstration in organization which is not something they’ve been known for. The defense was well shielded by Mascherano and Biglia, and they were able to squeeze the lines to the point where Origi couldn’t beat Garay and De Michells with pace, which you would have put your house on.

And hey, they got their one goal without a Messi magic moment, which is a step in the right direction.

Di Maria could be a loss, but it might actually solidify their midfield a bit more as they could replace him with another central midfielder to go ahead of Mascherano and whatever partner he has there. That would leave a front three of Higuain, Messi, and Lavezzi, which is hardly bad.

They shifted Higuain out wide to get Messi back in the middle a lot yesterday, we’ll see if that continues. If Costa Rica can hold the Dutch out so easily, why can’t the Albiceleste?

See you in Sao Paulo (q.usatoday.com)

See you in Sao Paulo (q.usatoday.com)

Holland 0 – Costa Rica 0 (The Dutch win on penalties)

Hey, I think Van Persie is offside again.

Rare that at this level you see a team struggle so much with an offside trap. Especially when it’s continually from players on the outside who are looking at the whole line. Sure, the Ticos were well organized and disciplined, but this wasn’t some brilliant new system or anything.

And yet continually Robben or Memphis or Van Persie, when he would pull out wide, were caught off. Did Van Gaal in his infinite genius forget to tell his players how offsides works?

That said, we’ve all had that drunken, closing time discussion about subbing in a keeper right before penalties if he was a shot-stopping expert. Usually it was with Pepe Reina and Spain. Or anyone English who wasn’t already the starting keeper, just because they need all the help they can get.

Well, Van Gaal actually did it. I don’t know if Cillesen wouldn’t have stopped the attempts that Krul did, because they weren’t particularly good penalties anyway. But it worked, so the credit goes to the move.

Still, the Costa Ricans were so close to pulling off the shock. And it was a little frustrating to see another CONCACAF team that wanted to defend but do it in such an organized fashion, instead of the Dear-God-Tim-please-save-us fashion of the US.

Sure, the Ticos still needed some great saves from Keylor Navas but has the US ever looked that organized in defense? Maybe that’s not our problem any more if we’re going to be an attacking force (so they say).

Awkward Analyst Of The Day

Has to be Ruud nearly tearing his hair out during the Dutch match.

  Retching Dutchman? (@TaylorTwellman)

Retching Dutchman? (twitter.com: @TaylorTwellman)

Player of The Day

Let’s go with the entire Argentine defense, who had the Belgians looking pretty helpless and than withstood the physical barrage at the end even though they all gave up like six feet to Lukaku.

Credit where it's due, Argentina figured it out at the back. (abc.com.py)

Credit where it’s due, Argentina figured it out at the back. (abc.com.py)

Follow Sam Fels @RealFansProgram and @CubsIvyDrip. Or read him: TheCommittedIndian.com or theivydrip.wordpress.com or right here


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