Argentina 0, Holland 0 [PK: 4-2]: Well-played defensive battle, in which both teams played cautiously and where the stars (Messi, Higuain, van Persie, Robben, et al.) were mainly silent. Which is to say, like a Ravens-Seahawks Super Bowl, or a Dodgers-Tigers World Series, it was dull for the non-partisan, but a feast for the connoisseur. That it would be decided by penalty kicks was apparent before halftime.
Soccer fans spend too much time arguing with trolls about whether the frequency of scoreless draws and 1-0 results is a drawback for the sport, insofar as very little seems to be accomplished in terms of scoring, and to such little effect. The fact is, people don't follow sports because of the activity is inherently exciting, or else ice hockey would have more American fans than baseball, or, for that matter, high-scoring, since the NBA Finals have much lower ratings than the Super Bowl. People follow sports because they have an emotional interest in the outcome, not because a lot of points are going to get scored. The higher ratings for the World Cup in the US have come about not because the USMNT has suddenly become a point-a-minute, offensive juggernaut, or a legit contender to win the whole thing, but because there is a gradual increase in public interest in how well the US does in the tournament. And even after the US was eliminated, the ratings remain strong, showing that it's the competition itself that Americans are following. Once you care who wins, the scoreline becomes irrelevant.
July 08, 2014
Germany 7, Brazil 1: Fired up by the loss of their leading scorer and star defender, the hosts came out firing on all cylinders, holding Die Mannschaft to only five goals in the first half, then capping things off with a deadly strike in injury time to clinch a spot in the consolation final Saturday...or to look at it another way, every favela that was torn down and each of its residents who were displaced to make room for a parking lot received a karmic vindication. Brazil had reached the semis almost solely through home field advantage, besting two superior South American sides along the way who played the game the way Brazil used to, and it all culminated with the most shocking rout in my lifetime. Germany had hardly looked more impressive since their opening blowout of Portugal, with three consecutive one-goal margins (who would have thought that the US could teach something to Brazil about resolute play and defensive creativity), but today's explosion was wholly unexpected. Bring on the Final....