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The Dansville Online
  • Don Cuddy: Netherlands-Argentina game doesn't live up to the hype

  • What a letdown. Maybe it was the rain, but this one never caught fire. It was about as entertaining as an afternoon at the DMV. No goals, no momentum, no excitement. Extra time and still no goals.
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  • What a letdown.
    Maybe it was the rain, but this one never caught fire. It was about as entertaining as an afternoon at the DMV. No goals, no momentum, no excitement. Extra time and still no goals.
    Watching the game develop so warily, it became clear quite early on that goals were not going to arrive, but still the hope lingered that eventually something had to happen, right? Nope.
    It was like watching "Waiting for Godot." Nothing happened. Repeatedly. If these teams had to play until a goal was scored they would still be out there now, passing it sideways and back. The soccer gods only allocate so much drama to this tournament, and it seems as though Brazil and Germany expended the semifinal quota on Tuesday.
    The lack of ambition displayed by both sides from the kickoff doomed this as a spectacle, and the failure of the big name players to impose themselves on the game ensured a deadlock that was never seriously threatened during 120 numbing minutes. Each team conjured up just one real scoring opportunity apiece during that time and both missed.
    The great Lionel Messi became invisible. For an hour he was shadowed by an enforcer, Nigel De Jong, until Louis Van Gaal, the Dutch coach, realized that he could allow a below-par Messi to roam. The Netherlands then removed De Jong and brought on a promising young player, Jordy Clasie, to try and create something. But he quickly became as bogged down in this turgid affair as the rest of the players out there. Even left to his own devices, Messi failed to prosper and the game ground through extra time until the final whistle came as a relief.
    Argentina triumphed in the shootout. There was no repeat of what happened in the Netherlands’ shootout victory over Costa Rica when they introduced their imposing backup goalkeeper, Tim Krul, just for the penalty kicks.
    This time the Dutch had used up all three of their permitted substitutions and starting goalie Jasper Cillessen faced the ordeal. He was not required to do much work during open play, and he had no luck when the penalties arrived. All four went by him while two from the Netherlands were turned aside by the hero of the hour, Argentina’s Sergio Romero.
    Ron Vlaar, the Dutch center back, was inexplicably assigned to take the first kick. Usually the forwards take the penalties. Vlaar struck his poorly and Romero made a routine save. That immediately presented Argentina with the advantage. To his credit, Messi stepped up first for Argentina and showed no nerves as he expertly converted the spot kick. Romero’s great save from Wesley Sneijder was the clincher and it has made him, briefly anyway, more popular than the Pope in their shared homeland. (Pope Francis is an admitted fan of Buenos Aires soccer team San Lorenzo, who are known as Los Cuervos, the Crows, since they were founded by priests, who of course dressed in all-black back in the day. The San Lorenzo players were invited to the Vatican after winning the championship.)
    Page 2 of 2 - Romero was interviewed on the field immediately after his save and was very honest. He admitted that shootouts are a matter of luck and pointed out that Cillessen had actually got both hands behind Maxi Rodriguez’s wining penalty but the ball bounced up and went into the net.
    So now we now know the two finalists in Brazil 2014. Argentina scarcely deserve it, and now have one day less to recover from this game, having also played extra time. Meanwhile the super-fit Germans must be feeling very confident about the chance to become the first European team to win the World Cup in South America.
    The global audience also has the time to recover from this ordeal before the Big One arrives this Sunday. On Saturday we also have the prospect of a real game when Brazil come out of hiding to face the Netherlands in a match for third place. Normally a fairly casual affair, this time it might be different as the world waits to see if Brazilian soccer can rise from the ashes. The absence of yellow in the stands during yesterday’s semifinal was very noticeable, as wearing the Brazilian shirt now has become too painful for most of their fans. What will the reaction be on Saturday?
    MOST INTERESTING MAN
    Tony Deandrades of Univision was on Copacabana Beach to inventory the bags of fans arriving at the fan zone. They all obliged in showing him the beer and liquor they were bringing in. Meanwhile Deandrades had his face painted orange on one side and blue and white on the other. Fun stuff and unimaginable on that other network.
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