(Results: Argentina 0-4 Germany, Paraguay 0-1 Spain)
Who would have thought that out of four South American teams would make it to the quarter-finals, only one of them would go on to reach the semifinals, and that team would be Uruguay? After Brazil were knocked out by Holland, it was the turn of their bitter rivals Argentina to taste humble-pie at the hands of the irresistible Germans. The day also saw Spain being rescued by their favourite son, again. Here are the notable moments of the day..
The Thomas Muller Act of the day
Thomas Muller‘s heroics against England had hardly been forgotten, but he decided to cement his hero status. He took the field against Argentina to give his team a perfect start by scoring inside the opening three minutes, but was also booked later for an innocuous looking challenge which resulted in his suspension from the semi-final. But that did not deter him, as a grounded Muller delivered a perfect ball to Podolski, who laid it in the path of Klose, to send Germany 2-0 ahead. The Thomas Muller Show will be put on hold, when Germany face the mighty Spain. The question is how much will he be missed?
German Toughie of the day
Per Mertesacker (Germany), the Werder Bremen defender, made many crucial interceptions and was rock-solid in defense, but that’s not why he has found a mention here. He took a Carlos Tevez goal-bound thunderbolt to his face from point-blank range, without flinching for a bit. Instead, there were a few high-fives in the German ranks and the order resumed. That’s toughness!
Best Schooling of the day
The German School of Humiliation taught Argentina, and Diego Maradona, a real lesson in football. It had done the same to England. If only the South Americans had attended that class! The team that was hyped to be god-sent to teach the footballing world a lesson in football, was brought crashing back to reality. The young German team exploited their weak defense not once, not twice, but four times to dump Diego Maradona’s men out of World Cup’10.
In what will eventually be regarded as a German masterclass, the three-times world champions tore Argentina’s title ambitions to shreds, in a match which was being portrayed as a perfect setting for the South Americans to avenge their loss in Germany’06. Out of the four goals scored by Die Mannschaft, the one which saw Mesut Ozil effortlessly scoop the ball over two defenders to set-up Klose, was the best goal of the game. Tonight, there were glimpses of the Germany we have come to know of – efficient, tactical and disciplined. Add one more – devastating.
Player of the day
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany) is slowly establishing himself as one of the top midfielders in the world. Though in the absence of Michael Ballack, it has been Khedira who has effortlessly stepped into his present shoes, but it is Schweinstiger who has been emulating the Ballack of old, in this tournament. He has been like a general who marshals his troops, controls the midfield play and provides support to the young soldiers.
Against Argentina, he delivered a monumental performance. He pulled all the strings from midfield, out-classed his counterparts and even assisted in two of Germany’s four goals.
Flop of the day
It’s not been a tournament for superstars. After Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Frank Ribery, it was the turn of the World Footballer of the Year himself to disappoint. Lionel Messi hadn’t managed to score a goal in this World Cup before the encounter with Germany, and that didn’t change; what changed was his influence on the game, as even the great Messiah failed to create much for his team-mates or inspire them to get back in the game.
Comedy of the day
Argentina scored the equalizer through Gonzalo Higuain in the first half, but to the striker’s dismay, the goal was ruled off-side. The replays unveiled that at least four Argentineans were in an off-side position, when Gabriel Heinze played the ball.
Most dramatic sequence of the day
Three penalties, one incorrect penalty decision, two penalty saves and a goal-line clearance. What a dream sequence, eh? Football supporters across the world witnessed one of the most bizarre minutes in World Cup history.
It all started when Oscar Cardozo went down in the box after Pique clung onto his hand, and the referee rightly pointed to the spot. The penalty was wonderfully saved by Spanish skipper Iker Casillas. In the very next attack, a Spanish counter-attack was brought to an abrupt end when David Villa was felled – penalty to Spain!
Alonso converted the spot-kick, but to his chagrin, the referee ruled out the goal, as he had spotted a Spanish encroachment in the box, before the penalty was taken. The Real Madrid man had to retake the spot-kick, but this time the Paraguay keeper Villar denied him. The drama didn’t stop there! As Villar went to save the rebound, he fouled Fabregas but the referee did not spot this, and the incoming shot from another Spaniard was saved on the goal-line. Somehow, it stayed 0-0 !
Saviour(s) of the day
When Cardozo stepped up to take the penalty, all the Spanish hearts had left their designated place and could now been seen pumping from their mouths. Then Iker Casillas (Spain) stepped up to deny him and keep his team in the competition. That was not his last contribution in the game, as his services were further required to deny the Paraguayans.
A Spanish victory is not complete or, on a few occasions, not possible, until David Villa (Spain) scores. There was nervousness written all across the faces of Spanish supporter, as they feared for the worst – Spain choking in another World Cup. Step-up Monsieur David Villa! Scoring the only goal of the match in the 82nd minute, he once again bailed Spain out of a sticky situation. He now has five goals in South Africa’10 and is the front-runner for the golden boot.
South American resolve of the day
The last quarter-final between Paraguay and Spain was being considered as a mere formality by the so-called geniuses of the world, but the South Americans had other ideas. They turned the one-sided affair on its head and took their more illustrious opponents for a ride so tough that it took the Furia Roja more than eighty minutes to break them down. Paraguay may have lost the match, but won a lot of respect.
Exposed Personality of the day
It had all been plain sailing for Diego Maradona (Argentina) before they faced Germany. Argentina had never trailed in a match, and Diego’s managerial skills had hardly been tested. However, Germany changed the scenario completely and Argentina found themselves in unknown waters. They trailed after three minutes in the quarter-final, and ended up getting hammered.