Watching Argentina against Germany was almost like watching Arsenal against Chelsea or United. One team kept going forward without really threatening, the other just finished the game ruthlessly and clinically. I say almost because I didn’t feel the sadness that goes with such Arsenal games and that’s why watching these games as a neutral is much better for the heart and mind.
The Germans amplified their talents with the right tactics while Maradona killed the talent he had with his managerial naivety. Argentina did well in the earlier games as they didn’t encounter such an organized, technical, and merciless side. To think that the same could continue against the Germans was just madness.
It was always going to be difficult after conceding a stupid goal from a set piece in the third minute. In a way that played right into German hands. And the rout could have started early in the first half if Klose had converted a sitter. It was a lucky break for the South American side but they just couldn’t capitalize.
There were too many individual players in that team who held on to the ball again and again allowing the Germans the chance to crowd out the man on the ball. Di Maria was hopeless, Messi was marked out, Tevez ran into dead ends, and Higuain rarely got any service.
In the end I think Maradona played a system that might have worked in his time but will never work in modern football. It is a real shame to see a talent like Messi stifled by poor tactics. Messi and his team mates deserve a special mention for going this far in spite of Maradona being the manager.
I can’t take anything away from the Germans though. They thoroughly deserved the win and will be super confident for the Semi-Final. They must’ve been surprised how easy this game turned out in the end. Ozil and Podolski didn’t have to do much; Schweinsteiger, Khedira, and Mueller (probably the three best players in that team) did enough damage while Klose took his World Cup tally to 14!
It’s a shame that Mueller was booked for a nothing hand-ball, especially as Di Maria got away with a blatant one a few minutes earlier. He will be missed as the game against Spain will definitely be tougher.
The Spaniards qualified with a hard fought 1-0 win over Paraguay. I was really surprised by the quality shown by the South American side. Earlier, I’d mentioned their pressing against Slovakia and it came to the fore once again as they denied the Spanish players any time or space on the ball. It’s not often that you don’t see Spain camped in the opposition half!
This game had as much drama, if not more, as the Ghana-Uruguay fixture.
Paraguay had a goal disallowed for off-side, which could have gone either way (I think off-side was the correct call); they had a penalty saved that should have been retaken as a couple of Spain players were encroaching in the penalty area; Spain scored from a penalty but were forced to retake (a very tight call); and the retaken penalty was saved but Fabregas should have had another one in the follow up.
From a drama point of view this game was a thriller and unlike some of the other games in the tournament, even the quality of football was quite high. The Paraguay players were highly skilled, tackled well, moved the ball well, and played to a plan. Their manager, Gerardo Martino, deserves credit for the way his team have played in the tournament. Fat Sam and his kind can learn a lot from him.
Spain have by far the best collection of players but as I’ve said before I’m not convinced about the tactics of the manager. Torres is clearly out of form. Persisting with him up front and Villa on the left severely limits their options. Playing Busquets and Alonso in tandem doesn’t make any sense either as it slows the tempo of their game and lowers their creativity.
Cesc made an impact after he came on but more than that I thought Spain improved because Villa moved to the middle and Iniesta to the left in a free role. After bringing Pedro on the right for Alonso in the middle they found a better balance.
The goal was created by a dazzling run by Iniesta and even when Pedro couldn’t finish it, Villa was there to complete the formality.
David Villa’s amazing form, including a couple of wonder goals, has so far covered the weaknesses of this Spanish side. Of course, they benefit from the tremendous depth available on the bench but Del Bosque will have to do better against Germany.
I can see what he is trying. If Torres comes good he can take the game to a different level. There is no denying the quality he has but it’s not working for him. The manager needs to decide whether he can risk it against Germany or not. That will certainly be a massive test for his magnificent squad.
I’d definitely start Cesc ahead of Alonso or Busquets and play Pedro or Navas on the right with Torres on the bench. As long as Spain are winning there can always be a counter argument to defend the manager’s choices. We’ll just have to see how they do in the next two games.
The way things are poised we could have a Cesc Vs Van Persie Final. That will be something!