It’s time for another two-day break, and a chance to catch your breath before the semi-finals.
After Friday saw the first semi-final decided, with hosts Brazil taking on the ever-consistent Germans, yesterday was the turn of Argentina and Holland to set up the other mouth-watering Euro-American last four.
It was a day of mixed feelings for me, as I was heading to possibly my last game of the tournament, and definitely the final one here in Salvador.
A review of that game will come tomorrow, with some stunning photographs and an update on my jersey-trading antics. All I will say is that I became a little bit South American at the stadium, but which nation stole my heart you will have to wait to find out…
The early match I devoured (along with rice and beans) in my local restaurant, watching two of the three teams who had won all of their matches so far: Argentina and Belgium. (Any guesses who the third was? The team I was to see later that evening, Holland!)
Something had to give, and it was the home of waffles and beer which succumbed to some South American flair, Messi not scoring against his La Liga nemesis Courtois but playing some incredible football, seeming untacklable at times. He had the chance to pick up his fifth goal with a one-on-one in injury time, but Thibault held firm and the final seconds were as tense as they were in the previous game against the Swiss.
Gonzalo Higuaín, after a nondescript tournament, scored early with a beautiful instinctive half-volley, (his first of the tournament), and hit the bar with a later effort which led to one of the funniest moments of the World Cup so far when his coach Sabella went a little too far in expressing his shock!
Belgium manager Marc Wilmots labelled Argentina ‘ordinary‘ after the match, but in a game which saw only three shots on target, (the lowest for a knock-out match since the 1990 final), only one of them was for Belgium, and too much of the game was spent lofting high balls to the towering Fellaini.
So the golden Belgian generation, everyone’s favourite dark horses, failed to live up to the hype but go home with their heads held high as Argentina record a fifth straight one-goal victory. In a tournament which has thrown up an amazing amount of crazy statistics, (how have Germany only met Brazil once before?!), today’s mind-bender is that this is the first time that arch-rivals Argentina and Brazil have appeared in the World Cup semi-finals together apparently!
Finally today, to add some humour to your day, here is the best gag I’ve heard so far during the tournament: enjoy!
After Nigeria was eliminated from the world cup the Nigerian captain personally offered to refund all the expenses of fans that travelled to Brazil..He said he just needs their bank details and pin numbers to complete the transaction.
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