Daily Cup Check: Day 26

Wake up...actually, no. As you were. Smart choice. (washingtonpost.com)

Wake up…actually, no. As you were. (washingtonpost.com)

Whereas yesterday will be remembered forever, today’s semifinal was one we would like to forget we ever bothered with just about as soon as it was over. Argentina were once again a mess in attack, and the Dutch didn’t even bother until the 85th minute –  and only then because the Argentines forgot Robben doesn’t touch the ball with his right foot. Let’s get through this together…

Argentina 0 – Netherlands 0 (Argentina win on penalties)

So who’s excited for the Van Gaal era at United now? To be fair to Van Gaal, and it pains me to do so because of his new affiliation and also he seems an utter twat, he’s got a limited squad with this Dutch team.

He’s got Robben, but after that Van Persie is clearly not himself, Sneijder is useless for 89-and-a-half minutes and then he has one moment of brilliance each match…and then what? Seriously people, we were penalty kicks away from having an Aston Villa center half start a World Cup Final.

So the tactics have to reflect that. Even if Argentina haven’t looked like much of an unstoppable force this month, going toe to toe with them and leaving them the space where they might find it (or Messi would) could have spelled big trouble. But that didn’t make it any easier to watch.

As for Argentina, they continue to have misfires and blanks. And when Messi is wearing three orange shirts at all times, they looked lifeless. Could have used Di Maria, that’s for sure.

With Messi playing at the head of the midfield triangle behind Higuain, Perez, and Lavezzi, and Mascherano and Biglia so deep, teams have found it easy enough to stick two holding midfielders on him. Sure, he drops deep with Barcelona, but that’s to link up with Xavi and Iniesta or Fabregas or whoever else. They can’t be completely ignored. Mascherano has been fantastic this tournament but he’s just not that expansive.

I honestly don’t know what the answers are for Argentina against Germany, You’d think a backline with Demichelis in it doesn’t have a prayer of keeping Germany out. But it has three straight clean sheets. Then again, Switzerland, Belgium, and Holland aren’t Germany.

Oh, Martin... (sports.inquirer.net)

Oh, Martin… (sports.inquirer.net)

It’s been pretty obvious Argentina don’t have someone else who can play at the head of midfield, allowing Messi to slide into the forward line where he plays most of the time. That would also probably come at the expense of Higuain, their only other player having a decent tournament outside the defense. They better hope Di Maria comes back.

At least we can debate this silly goalkeeper substitution thing more, which was a crock of shit when Van Gaal pulled it the last time. There wasn’t much any Dutch ‘keeper was going to do about any of the Argentine penalties, and you can only go to that well so often.

Since the group stage the Dutch haven’t brought anything to this tournament. They had to wait for Mexico to punch themselves out and still needed a Robben dive to get out of it. They couldn’t break down Costa Rica. They basically caused Mascherano to make one miracle tackle to keep out Robben and that’s all they created.

I suppose that could be the legacy of this tournament, unless we get a great final. A wonderful, high-flying group stage followed by what has been basically a knockout phase of utter dross.

Brazil kicking James Rodriguez to pieces is basically the perfect metaphor for what this tournament turned into. Light and hope cannot exist here, it has to be stamped out.

Let’s hope for an early goal in the Final to at least give us some chance of an occasion worth remembering.

Football and James have taken a clobbering in these knockout rounds (dailymail.co.uk)

Not quite what is meant by “kick it on the ground” (dailymail.co.uk)

Awkward Analyst of The Day

Ruud Van Nistelrooy trying to claim with a straight face (though Ruud actually always has a ridiculously straight face) that Holland dominated the game in possession and attack. Unless these things are measured on Dirk Kuyt crosses to nowhere, in which case the Dutch were an unholy force.

Didn't think you'd need an urn that big for the ashes of your credibility, Ruud. (justanothermadridista.wordpress.com)

Didn’t think you’d need an urn that big for the ashes of your credibility, Ruud. (justanothermadridista.wordpress.com)

Player Of The Day

Does it matter? You pick one.

Sure, why not Mick? (theguardian.com)

Sure, why not Mick? (theguardian.com)


Need more World Cup? More analysis, insight and fluff?

Follow @OTFSoccer


When he’s not watching World Cup, Sam Fels is @RealFansProgram and @CubsIvyDrip. And if you need more than 140 characters of him at a time, read The Ivy Drip and The Committed Indian.


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