By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Argentina and Germany will meet this Sunday in the 2014 FIFA World Cup final at the Maracanã after the South Americans edged out Holland on penalties this evening (July 9th). The tight semi-final clash, played at the Arena Corinthians, ended goalless after 120 minutes in one of the great tactical conundrums of the tournament.
Argentina, in the subsequent shoot-out, netted all their spot kicks in a 4-2 win to see them through to their first final since 1990, ironically also against Germany. On that occasion, the Germans ran out 1-0 winners to lift, to date, their last World Cup title.
For Holland, their backs were against the wall once Ron Vlaar missed the first penalty and they were left praying for an Argentine slip up that never came. In their final two World Cup games, first against Costa Rica and then today, the Orange Machine failed to find the back of the net.
For Argentina, goalkeeper Sergio Romero was the hero. After saving from Vlaar he then blocked an effort from Wesley Sneijder to give his country the advantage. Veteran midfielder Maxi Rodriguez then netted the winning kick to send the fans dressed in blue and white into delirium.
Just as yesterday’s contest made World Cup history, so did this one. It was the first ever semi-final to end goalless, and threatening action at either end was thin on the ground.
With the two teams so evenly matched they cancelled each other out in the midfield. From the opening exchanges this game never had the feel of a classic encounter.
Holland didn’t manage to muster a shot in normal time, registering their first effort almost ten minutes into the extra 30 minutes. Gonzalo Higuain had the best chance for Argentina but failed to connect properly with Enzo Perez’s cross.
What the Dutch managed to do so effectively was keep Lionel Messi quiet, but once the ball stopped rolling and it was down to a battle of nerves from the spot, it was Argentina who held their nerve, not missing a single effort.
This Sunday, they have the chance to make every Brazilian live their worst nightmare. Watch their arch-rivals lift the World Cup at Brazil’s iconic home of football.
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