Interestingly, the four teams now in the semi-finals of the World Cup are much as I (and many others) have predicted. That is not to say it hasn’t been exciting – it has, or that other less accomplished teams haven’t performed well – they have! I sense English interest has waned now that our boys aren’t in the competition, which is a pity because the football is of the high standard that we would expect from this the world’s premier football competition.
My takes on the quarter final games just played are:
France versus Germany: France disappointed by a lack luster display and this meant the game was rather dull. To their credit though, Germany played in the solid and disciplined fashion, yet without too many fireworks, we have come to expect from them. Germany turned out to be worthy and emphatic winners.
Brazil versus Colombia: Brazil continue to disappoint, not just because the football they play is not as brilliant as we have come to expect over the years but because of the cynical and disrupting pattern of play. Yet they overcome a spirited and worthy Columbian team by flashes of brilliance and the ability to hold their own.
Argentina versus Belgium: the problem with the Belgium team is while they play a solid, disciplined and organized brand of football, it is one-dimensional and predictable and, importantly, not enough to overcome a classy Argentina team now showing some of the talent we have been hoping for and could get better.
Holland versus Costa Rica: this has turned out to possibly be the game of the tournament so far – exciting and nail biting. Costa played well and gave of their best but one felt that this was not going to be enough to overcome the classy Dutch. It could have been so different, but in the end it came down to penalties with the Dutch prevailing against the surprise package of the tournament.
I still predict a Brazil versus Holland final but am less convinced now. In the first of the semi-finals, I hope Germany beat the Brazilians because, while the team has limitations, I feel it plays more in the spirit of how football should be played. In the other semi-final, the Argentina versus Holland game, this should be a cracker and could go either way, but I sense the time has come for the team that has got so near so often in the past to at last prevail. My naive hope is that the best team, in terms of footballing excellence, team spirit and sportsmanship, should win and, whichever team comes out on top, football should be the winner.