The quarter-finals are done and the 4 teams that I fully expected to win and go through to the semi-finals are through. But it wasn’t easy for any team and it looked like it could go any which way. So our semi-finals for the 2015 will look like this:
Germany vs Brazil : Germany and France had somewhat similar routes to the quarterfinals; they both started out with a bang and scored multiple goals in their opening games but things slowly petered out and they both had a solitary goal win and a draw in their next two matches and another low scoring win. But while Germany looked solid in defence and more likely to score the French had only Benzema and to a lesser degree Pogba who looked sharp in attack. Germany scored in the 13th minute through Mat Hummels and looked like they could score more but in the end it was enough. Brazil has similar style of a run as Germany but they are at home and have a huge advantage behind them. They faced a battling Colombia in the quarterfinals who gave them a run for their money but it looked like the hosts were on a gear higher and scored early as Thiago Silva gave them the lead. Just before the 70th minute Brazil scored again from David Luis before James scored via a deserved penalty to give the yellow fellows a tense last 10 minutes of the game. However Brazil will be without their star Neymar (out injured) for the rest of the tournament while captain David Luis is suspended for the Germany game. Advantage Germany in a huge way.
Netherlands vs Argentina : In a rematch of the 1986 semifinals Argentina faced off against Belgium, another side that is a dark horse in the tournament. And for the first time since 1990 (24 years) the Argentines are through to the semis after a solitary goal victory by Gonzalo Higuain which came as early as the 8th minute. That would prove enough for a win as the Belgians faltered to score even though they had plenty of chances and came close. Netherlands faced off against Cinderella side and unlikely quarterfinalists Costa Rica who took the game to the Dutch. The Dutch came close to scoring on several occasions and especially in the extra time they hit the cross bar twice and the goal post once. Will no goal come for the attack minded Dutch? And then in what is being hailed as the best substitution in the history of the World Cup, coach Louis van Gaal sent Tim Krul in virtually the last few seconds of extra-time just to take the penalties as he and his coaching staff that the Newcastle goalie was better suited to saving them than first choice Jasper Cillessen to save the penalties and he did, saving two out of five! What a tactician! An unlikely world cup hero and the answer to a trivia question for the years to come. I give a slight edge to the Dutch against Argentina as they seem to be cool as cucumbers even when things aren’t going their way.