Vamos Vamos Argentina!
These were the words reverberating at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo after an absolutely spectacular 4-2 win in the penalty shoot-out by Argentina, which sealed perhaps the most scratchy match of this World Cup.
The score was tied 0-0 at the end of 120 gruesome minutes of football, with the Argentinians and the Dutch playing an equally contested game all through. There were a number of perilously close shaves for Argentina, as Javier Mascherano saved an Arjen Robben attempt from close to 5 yards out from the goal in the extra time interval, despite having an injured lip. But for his miraculous efforts, the Dutch would have had an easy win.
Man to man marking and close knitted defences ensured a goalless period of play with the spectators chewing off every remaining bit of their fingernails. The penalties pitted the ever so adept Argentinians against the nervy Dutch.
The real hero of the game for Argentina was their keeper Sergio Romero, who saved a couple of belters from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder. His alertness and skill was essentially the difference between the two sides as a disconsolate Dutch keeper watched his Argentinian counterpart make some of the most remarkable saves of this World Cup.
As the teams entered the second half of extra time, it was pretty evident that the Dutch were pushing extra bodies forward in an attempt to score and avoid the dread penalty kicks, while Argentina remained resolute in defence.
As we head into the finals, Messi’s Argentina have ensured that an all-European final is out of question, and people around the world can make few presumptions about which way the tide will turn in the final, with these ever so promising nations rising to the top of their games at the right time. What would be interesting would be the strategies that the Germans employ against the South Americans, with Lavezzi and Messi looking so threatening going forward.
It is yet another heartbreak for the Dutch fans who were in tears with their team not making it to two consecutive World Cup finals. With the 3rd place match not so far away, the Dutch must regroup and work towards achieving victory against a beleaguered Brazilian team and look to salvage some of the pride that they very rightly deserve. And as far as Argentina is concerned…
“Ole ole Messi, Para el mejor del mundo”