I think I'm coming down with a cough. Better call this guy:
Okay then, it was quite an exciting quarterfinal round in the World Cup over our Independence Day Weekend. Let's run it down!
NETHERLANDS 2, BRAZIL 1
Everything seemed to be going according to plan early. Just 10 minutes in, Robinho broke past the defense, fielding a long thru ball from Felipe Melo, and putting it home to give Brazil a 1-0 lead. Brazil took that lead into the locker room at halftime, and they had never, EVER lost in World Cup play when leading at halftime. Game over of course, right? NOOOOO.
The horror started for the tournament favorites when Wesley Sneijder chipped a rainbow from outside the box that not only made it over everyone's heads, but over the outstretched Hamburger Helper fingers of Brazil keeper Julio Cesar. A stunning goal to tie the match at 1. The game winning goal was even crazier. Arjen Robben's corner kick was headed first by Dirk Kuyt, giving the ball a little extra lift, which allowed it to be headed in by Sneijder for his second goal of the match, putting Holland up 2-1.
Melo received a red card in the 73rd minute to put Brazil down a mane, and from then on it was clear that the upset was going to happen. Brazil is out! Although, really, this was not one of the better Brazil teams. Robinho was arguably their biggest scoring threat, and well, let us say he is well known to be flawed. Kaka assisted on 3 goals but didn't score any, and Daniel Alves was held without a goal or an assist. So the loss is kind of surprising, but not earth shattering. And besides, the day of the match, before it had been played, a Brazilian newspaper accidentally ran an ad consoling the Brazilian team on its loss that hadn't happened yet. See, this whole thing IS fixed.
URUGUAY 1, GHANA 1 (URUGUAY WINS ON PKS 4-2)
You see a lot of things over the course of an entire World Cup tournament. But do you expect to see the playing out of a real moral dilemma? Is it OK to blatantly cheat to win? I ask because of the way Uruguay won this match. In the waning seconds of extra time, Uruguay forward Luis Suarez was left alone defending an otherwise open net. Ghana's Dominic Adiyiah's header was going to go into the net, giving Ghana a 1-0 win and ending Uruguay's dream World Cup run.
Suarez did the only thing he could do, which was say "ahhh fuck it" to rule #1 of FOOTball, which is, you don't use your hands. He swatted the shot away with his arm, and duly got red carded for it. Ghana would have to convert the ensuing penalty kick to get their goal now, and, of course, they missed it. Asamoah Gyan got nothing but crossbar, and the match went into a penalty kick shootout which Uruguay won to advance to the semis. So, in this instance, yes, it was totally OK to cheat to win. I guess Suarez really had no other choice.
Netherlands v. Uruguay- As I pointed out last week, Uruguay won the very first World Cup, and it's totally crazy that they have come this close to winning again 80 years later. Suarez and Diego Forlan have been superstars in this tournament, and Netherlands is nothing if not inconsistent. They've been known to play a great match, like they did against Brazil, then bumble thru the next one. No result here would surprise me, but since I do smell upset, I will jump at the chance to look like a genius here. Uruguay wins 1-0.
GERMANY 4, ARGENTINA 0
Beating England and Argentina by a combined score of 8-1. Absurd. I'm not a soccer expert, but I have a hard time imagining that any team has put on a more impressive World Cup run than this German team has, and since theoretically World Cup football is the highest level of play there is (although I would really debate that), what you may be seeing here is the greatest team ever to take the pitch. Certainly not in terms of talent, any Champions League finalist probably is more talented than this team, but the way they work together is just magical. It's so cool to see guys like Miroslav Klose, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski, Mesut Ozil, guys who are not (at least not up to this point) in the conversation for best player in the World, just play on a completely different level as part of this team. Meanwhile, exit Maradona and a super talented Argentina team, completely marginalized by this juggernaut. Said Maradona after the match, "This is a country where you live and breathe football. I don't think that any will be happy when the team loses 4-0."
SPAIN 1, PARAGUAY 0
Hey guess who predicted the score of this one exactly right. If you guessed Nicky P, you are right. Nobody could have predicted the level of wackiness that ensued in this one though, in such a short period of time. The wackiness started when Paraguay was awarded a PK when (Gerard) Pique pulled down Paraguay's Oscar Cardozo on a corner kick. Iker Casillas made the save though, to avert disaster. Then just seconds later, Spain was awarded a penalty kick when David Villa was hauled down. Xabi Alonzo knocked it in, but it was ruled that there were Spanish players in the penalty box when he kicked it, so they re-kicked, and of course this time it was unsuccessful. Eventually, Spain finally broke thru, with David Villa not only winning the match but getting an extra ball when his shot somehow hit one post, then flew across the goal and hit the other, then in the net. Spain manages to get thru the tournament without choking, nobody can call it a "choke" if they lose to Germany.
Germany v. Spain- In actuality, this is the Championship Match. Germany will be looking for revenge for the Finals loss in Euro 08. Normally, when Germany looks for revenge, it doesn't end very well for them (see World War II). Things will be different this time though. Germany wins 2-1, setting up a David v. Goliath with Uruguay in the final.
Hey remember a couple of weeks ago when everyone was like, ohhhh South America is doing so great in this tournament what's wrong with Europe the balance of power has shifted dur dee dur dee dur? Now there's 3 European teams in the semifinals. Bunch of know-nothing know-it-alls.
-Meanwhile, once the World Cup is over, we go NFL intensive. Nicky P's award winning interview series with Mr. Football starts next week!