The 2014 World Cup quarterfinals are over, with Argentina (after beating Belgium 1-0) and the Netherlands (winning a penalty shootout against Costa Rica) setting up a very interesting semifinal, without any underdogs left in the tournament.
The other semifinal will also be a battle between European and South American powers, as Germany face Brazil.
Argentina 1 Belgium 0: Lionel Messi didn’t score. It was Gonzalo Higuain from an Angel Di Maria assist. And the Real Madrid star won’t be playing in the tournament. Belgium had their chances, but nothing too close. Argentina played an excellent defensive match, getting the better chances throughout the 90 minutes, not letting Belgium’s height overtake them. This might not be brilliant football, but its efficient, revolving around the ability of one player, Lionel Messi, to make a difference, something Belgium don’t have when things don’t go well for them.
Netherlands Costa Rica: Keylor Navas stopped everything the Netherlands had to offer. Even when he couldn’t reach the ball, the crossbar or the post were in the way. It seemed like the Costa Rica goal was somehow cursed (or blessed, depending on your point of view). But it came down to penalty kicks. Louis van Gaal made a weird, and in hindsight, genius substitution, putting Tim Krul in the match just before the 120 minutes ended instead of Jasper Cillesen. Krul stopped two penalty kicks, the Dutch team moves on. Strange, but perfect.