Holland 0 Argentina 0: Three talking points
Holland 0 Argentina 0: Three talking points as the South Americans win 4-2 in the penalty shootout to reach World Cup final
A more semi-final affair
After the absolute feast of goals in Germany’s unprecedented 7-1 win over hosts Brazil on Tuesday, tonight’s second semi-final was more of a famine. The match ticked over at a sometimes unbearable pace as the flow and tempo was dictated by the opposing midfields and defences dominated. When the ball did occasionally break for a forward, he was closed down so quickly that only two shots were recorded on target in the opening 90 minutes from either side. Dourness turned to tediousness in extra-time, as no clearcut chance presented itself in a typically tight affair.
Neat and tidy defence locks down Messi
They say the key to beating Argentina is to keep Lionel Messi under lock and key, and if there’s one man who relishes tactical decisions it’s Loius van Gaal. The mastermind behind Holland’s penalty shootout win over Costa Rica got it right again, as Ron Vlaar yielded to nothing in the most important match of his career so far. The Aston Villa defender put in a wonderful performance blocking, tackling and stepping out of the backline. Messi was shackled by the static three in Holland’s defence, and found even less reward on the flanks when faced with Daley Blind and Dirk Kuyt in the wing-back roles. Messi’s singular touch in the Dutch box throughout the whole match was to take his penalty, and it goes to show that when researched extensively and executed properly, a defensive unit as unconventional as Holland’s can keep out even the must phenomenal of players.
Cillessen can’t keep his Krul
Van Gaal opted against repeating his shock tactic of replacing tournament stalwart goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen with seconds remaining with Newcastle’s Tim Krul, as the Dutch faced a second successive penalty shootout. Instead using his final substitution to replace a subdued Robin van Persie with Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Van Gaal thrust Cillessen into the world spotlight. The 25-year-old has never saved a penalty in his professional career, and that duck continued as the Argentinians scored each of their four penalties. Despite attempting to harness the Krul mind games from their quarter final against Costa Roca, Cillessen only managed to get close to Maxi Rodriguez’s winning spot-kick. The Dutch stopper’s opposite number Sergio Romero saved well from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder, and young Cillessen will need a arm around his shoulder if he is to overcome that unwanted statistic.