July 3rd 2010
This is the stuff! Germany or Argentina - who do you want to win? "Excuse me sir, would you like me to break your left leg or your right?" Let's hope it's a good game and whoever goes through slumps out to Spain in the semis!
Fabio Carries On!
Fabio Capello has been told his future as England manager is safe following a four-hour meeting of the Club England board on Thursday. Fortunately - and unusually for the FA - the mandarins who fumble over the future of football in England have realised that the 'two weeks of reflection' demanded by chairnan Sir Dave Richards is neither sensible nor fair and have advised the Italian that his job is safe.
Quite right too! The only feasible replacement for the current manager has just taken a new job at Liverpool and there is nothing to be gained by ditching Capello at this stage. I'd rather Fabio used his position as 'the man from outside on the inside' and tried to influence the FA on the future direction of English football using his experience of the Italian and world game.
There is no doubt Capello has made mistakes at this World Cup but I don't think he can be held totally responsible for the appalling state of English football and we may as well continue with one of the world's best coaches and just hope he makes some indentation on the future path of football in the UK.
Germany 4 Argentina 0
Venue: Blagg Acres
Sustenance: Bockwurst and sauerkraut with a large glass of Finest Argentina Mendoza Malbec
I've been watching football a long time now - too long some may say - and I still can't figure out how Germany do it. Man for man you wouldn't think this German side could match up to Argentina but the South Americans were dismantled by a team - and that may be the word here - playing brilliant, incisive, yet somehow basic football. It's always the simple pass, the look-up, the way to do something the proper way that impresses. There's no concern about what to do about Tevez or Messi beyond organisation; just play the game your own way and let the opposition worry about you. It never ceases to amaze or impress.
Schweinsteiger and Muller - the latter only having played a handful of games before this World Cup - have been simply outstanding all tournament and the Germans as a whole restricted Argentina to a mere handful of half-chances. Their excellent day began early when those two men were involved in the Germans third minute lead, a fantastic delivery from Schweinsteige with a free kick after Podolski had been brought down, found Muller nodding in as the Argentine keeper Romero fumbled. The Germans continued to stifle the South Americans although there passages of play when Argentina seemed to be coming back into it before Klose scored a second after 68 minutes tapping in after a superb ball found Podolski in acres of space.
It was Friedrich's turn after 74 minutes when Schweinsteiger skipped past three or four defenders before pulling back for another close range goal before Ozil crossed superbly for Klose to score his second - Germany's fourth - on the volley. Argentina were completely demoralised by now; they looked second-class against this astonishing German side.
Spain 1 Paraguay 0
Venue: Blagg Acres
Sustenance: Bottle of San Miguel
A tedious game came to life on the hour with five minutes of penalty madness. Firstly, Pique manhandled Paraguay's Cardozo to the floor and a penalty was rightly given - what a shame referee's don't give more of these - and taken by the man brought down. The spot kick was saved by Casillas though enabling Spain to break quickly before Villa was brought down by Alcaraz for a penalty at the other end. Alonso slotted home from the spot but was ordered to retake it by the referee for encroachment - TV replays showing everyone including the ball boys running into the area. Justice was hardly served though when the retake was saved, particularly as the ball broke lose and Febragas was clearly brought down by keeper Villar who had done well to get low to save the shot but was unable to hold it. The lose ball was also cleared off the line by Da Silva and to add to the confusion further replays revealed that there was as much encroachment on the second penalty as there was on the first and at least six Spaniards had encroached when Cardozo had his kick saved just minutes earlier.
We all nodded off again until eight minutes from time when Iniesta broke superbly, jinking past defenders before passing to an unmarked Pedro who hit the post. The ball bounced out to Villa though who steadied himself before striking the same post, the ball flying along the line, hitting the other post and going in.
Paraguay had a fantastic opportunity to equalise two minutes from the end but Casillas made a superb save from Santa Cruz after spilling a first hard shot from Barrios enabling Spain to break again, Villa only able to guide the ball into Villar's arms when he should have done better.
It was the last bit of action in a game with very little, Spain going through to meet Germany in the semi-final while a distraught Cardozo was inconsolable at the end. It was tough for Paraguay who worked really hard to deny Spain but the European side always seemed to have a bit more to spare although they will have to improve their game to beat Germany.