After the amazing scenes from the night before, this game would have to do a lot to even match the drama from the previous Semi Final.
Argentina started Benfica midfielder Enzo Perez to replace the injured Di Maria, who is now a doubt for the final, a big blow for Argentina. If Brazil’s crushing defeat wasn’t bad enough, it would rub salt into the wounds to see their arch rivals progress to the final. For Holland, they were looking to finally drop their ‘bridesmaid’ tag, which they have been carrying for many years due to their nature of always falling short. If Brazil showed how not to defend, these two nations most certainly could. Both teams played with the fear of losing, rather than the drive to win. The first half was virtually a non event in terms of goals, with defensive players shining. Especially Ron Vlaar and Javier Mascherano. Messi was marked out of the game, his only effort being a free kick hit straight at the keeper. Robben, who has been so effective all tournament was reduced to the periphery of the match, a half in which he only attempted a single pass. Van Persie who has been suffering from a stomach bug was evidently not at his best. Unsurprisingly, it was still goalless at half time.
The second half was slightly more open, but that wasn’t saying much. Higuain had the best chance for Argentina, Perez put in a lovely cross from the right, with the Napoli strikers effort just hitting the side netting, Nigel De Jong had an excellent game, he sat on Messi for the duration of his time on the field, and stifled the Argentina play-maker out of the game. There would always be one chance to win it, and it fell to Robben late on. Clean through on goal, it seemed certain he would fire Holland into the final, but a heavy touch allowed Mascherano who was having an amazing game, to get in the tackle. As Extra Time went on, Argentina had probably the best of the chances, with Palacio and Rodriguez both having good chances but fired right at the keeper. It was no surprise that the game went onto penalties, it was truly a mundane game. After the whirlwind of a match the night before. This match would always find it tough to live up to expectation, and this was most certainly the case. Messi did not have a single touch of the ball inside the Dutch area, which summed up the nature of the game. If the attacking was poor, you have to give credit for the work the defensive members of the teams put in. One note of interest was that due to Holland making all 3 changes, Van Gaal could not replace keeper Jasper Cillessen with Tim Krul as he did in the last game. How would this effect the Dutch goalkeeper, knowing he was pretty much not trusted to take part in the previous shootout.
Eyebrows were raised when Ron Vlaar stepped up for the first kick, he may have had an outstanding game, but his is not one of Hollands regular spot kick takers. This was shown, as his kick was saved down low by Romero. Messi put away his kick to give Argentina an early lead. Robben and Garay followed suit with their kicks. The pressure was on Holland after missing their opening kick, and the pressure told, as Sneijder had his effort well saved. With Aguero scoring his, it was effectively 2 match points to Argentina. Dirk Kuyt scored to keep Holland in it, but it was Maxi Rodriguez who sealed their fate. His powerful shot may very well have been saved, but Cillessen’s wrists were not strong enough to keep the ball out. The keeper did not look confident in any of the kicks, and maybe being dropped last time around had hit his confidence. Van Gaal did reveal post match that he would have thrown on Krul again if he had substitutes left. So it was heartbreak again for the Dutch, who once again played well, but have not got the big prize. Germany await for victors Argentina, the Germans were in a brutal mood against Brazil. Argentina will have to play much better if they are to hope to lift the trophy on the soil of their long term rivals.
Before the Final though, it will be the match no semi finalist wants to play, the 3rd place play off between Brazil and Holland on Saturday. Brazil may take this game more seriously out of the two, as they look to make some amends for their horror show.