Germany a class above other World Cup semi-finalists.While this awful Brazil side were demolished 7-1, and Argentina scraped past the Netherlands on penalties in a drab 0-0 draw, Germany look like clear and deserved winners of the 2014 World Cup, with the final set to be played on Sunday evening.
A shock scoreline such as the one that saw them through to the final against the host nation can always be written off as a freak result, but the fact remains that Joachim Low’s side have been champions in the making for much of the last decade now, with only Spain, one of the finest national sides in the game’s history, standing in their way for so long.
With the 2010 winners dumped out at the group stage this year and looking like embarking on a major rebuilding process, there now looks like little to stop Germany lifting the World Cup for a fourth time this weekend, with even Lionel Messi looking unable to inspire this Argentina side to any truly outstanding performances.
Alejandro Sabella’s side have scrapped their way to this final with narrow 1-0 victories over Switzerland (in extra time) and Belgium, and were as bad as their opponents on Wednesday night as they edged Holland for a place in the final. Meanwhile, Louis van Gaal’s side have also been something of a disappointment in this competition.
Considering their thrilling start, a 5-1 win over reigning champions Spain in their opening match, the Netherlands have never really looked anywhere near as impressive ever since, with close wins over Australia and Chile following in their group, followed by a highly fortunate late comeback against Mexico in the next round, and a penalty shoot-out win over minnows Costa Rica in the quarter-finals.
None of the attacking vibrance from that destruction of Spain has been seen since, and that is with some world class talent in Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben to choose from. Despite his gutsy decision to bring on goalkeeper Tim Krul as a substitute for penalties in the Costa Rica game, van Gaal’s tactics have been disappointing, and his side’s defensive football may be something of a concern for Manchester United fans as he leaves Brazil to take over at Old Trafford full time. With two dull 0-0 draws in a row, the Red Devils may be reminded of some of the insipid attacking performances under David Moyes in their nightmare 2013/14 season.
In all, this has been a terrific tournament and one of the most memorable World Cups to date, but the two contrasting semi-final matches have certainly illustrated a worrying lack of real quality from the big-name international sides. Spain, Italy and France also exited earlier in the competition, with Germany the only nation so far to emerge with real credit, which will likely be shown in what could be another one-sided match in the final.
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