World Cup 2010: Day 21

Semi-finals, baby! La Celeste of Uruguay and The Flying Dutchmen (awesome) square off at 2:30 to see who gets to play for the big prize and who gets the consolation match.

The Dutch are favored in this match, as they’ve already proved themselves against the highest ranked team in the world, Brazil. However, Uruguay do have one thing the Dutch do not: wicked crab catching skills.

Forlan is SO good at that. Who knew?

To be perfectly honest, I’d love to see Uruguay win. The cards are stacked against them with Suarez out, but an upset sure would be nice.

And speaking of Suarez (and who hasn’t been?), let me say that I think what he did was completely understandable and, far from cheating, a perfectly reasonable decision. To say that he cheated would imply that he broke the rules and got away with it. He punched the ball away when he shouldn’t have, but he received the appropriate punishment. Truly, in that situation, losing Suarez and conceding a penalty kick should have finished the South American side. But there was a small glimmer of hope, and that’s what Suarez sacrificed himself for. Penalty kicks are successful something like 80% of the time, and even if Ghana were to miss that PK, Uruguay would have been (and were) forced to take their penalty kicks without their second-best striker.

We don’t cast scorn on basketball players who intentionally foul at the end of a game they’re losing to give their team one last shot. Nor do we decry defensive backs in football for purposefully creating a pass interference call when they judge that they’re not in position to stop a scoring reception. Those are tactical moves, they’re part of the game and you can’t complain when a player operates, and subsequently abides, by the rules of the game.

Now. Rant over. A score prediction perhaps? I’m thinking Uruguay score first, but Netherlands hit their stride later in the game and pull ahead by one, and maybe score a final goal in the late minutes after the game’s been decided. 3-1, Netherlands.

Yes, the Flying Dutchman- er, Dutchmen will be heading to the final.

6’37” – I don’t want to get too real here, but I wonder what will happen with these stadiums once the cup is over? I’ve seen that people have had concerns about this, but I’ve not read a big story or report on it. These places are massive, and in my admittedly lacking-in-African-knowledge mind, it would seem like the only place with one of those new behemoths that could support them would be Johannesburg, and maybe Cape Town. I could be talking out of my ass, but how many events in Durban or Rustenburg will bring out 50k-100k people or require the use of a shiny, new soccer stadium? It would be a sad thing indeed to see these places in 6 or 7 years rusting away and looming large amidst desolate asphalt fields and wind-strewn trash. Woah. Getting kind of real. Back to the game.

15’00” – Ian Darke, in response to his broadcasting partner boasting about picking Netherlands to win long ago: “Well, you can collect your winnings later. The drinks are on you, then.” Get this man to America. Call MLS. Call football. Call anything.

18’40” – My stunning streak of horrible predictions continues! Netherlands bang one in off the post and now we find out if these favorites, with the lead, are more Brazil or more Germany. 1-0, Netherlands.

27’45” – WOAH. Uruguay corner kick gets bounced around a bit, then launched high, heading for the edge of the box. A Uruguay player underneath the ball jumps and goes for the bicycle kick, but just as he swings his foot up, a Dutchman sails in for the header and finds instead, a foot. With his jaw. He goes down, the Uruguay player goes down, the Dutch freak out for a minute and it looks like we’re about to lose order, then things calm down.

It looked like an accident to me, but a damn painful accident.

36’50” – Nice match so far. For a while it looked like Uruguay were still playing with 10 men, but they’re on the march. They’ve created a few good attacks so far, thwarted more by good Dutch defense than a broken attack. Hopefully this keeps up.

40’08” – Diego Forlan is a GROWN. ASS. MAN. He got the ball 20 yards outside the box, moved up with it, faked a shot, ran back the other way, 10 yards out now, then fires and the ball tilts down just in time to graze the keeper’s outstretched hand and jump into the goal. What a shot.

Halftime – Well, this is just swell. Match is still 50/50. Nobody’s playing poorly. Just two teams really going at it, playing great football. Tied at 1-1, both teams could walk away with this one, but I’m still going to say that the Dutch pull together in the second half and gain the lead. Either way it goes, though, I’ll be satisfied. This is good soccer.

58’18” – Still a pitched battle. Hard to not just sit and watch. Do you understand my commitment to this blog? DO YOU?


66’36” – You know, for all the talk about the beginning of the tournament about how players were going to hate the ball and blame all manner of misses, accidental goals, and venereal diseases on it, at least one player seems to have grown accustomed to the Jabulani. Correction: mastered that bitch. Forlan seems to know exactly where to place his toe on this ball to send a free kick just over the wall and right at the goal. He just did it, and nearly got it. Dude is taking people to school.

69’23” – After about 5 minutes of relentless pressure, Netherlands finally break through the wall and get one in. Sneijder boots one low from the bottom corner of the box, it gently deflects off a Dutch player and the keeper (who correctly assumed, prior to the deflection, that the ball was headed out of bounds) has no choice but to dive late and the ball skips into the net. 2-1, Netherlands, but this one is FAR from over.

72’47” – Did I say far? What I meant was “very nearly.” In the blink of an eye, Holland are attacking again and Kuyt sends a cross in that finds Arjen Robben in the middle. He swings his skull around and the ball careens into the bottom-left corner of the goal. We’re at 3-1, Netherlands and…. and my prediction is looking correct?

What? I… I… I don’t know what to say…

So... so happy.

Hey, um, Netherlands. You’re good, right? I mean, you’re gonna win. You know that right? No need to, uh, to score anymore. At all. Yeah? Yeah. No scores. You’re good.

81’55” – Ian Darke: “Is that some kind of policy with the Dutch team? To lay down and see if there’s a booking to be had? I don’t like it.” Ian Darke, football hero.

83’39” – Diego Forlan is subbed out. Uruguay: “Well, we’re done here.” Can I get that video of him, just then, from behind, making the walk to the bench, but set to The Incredible Hulk theme? That man deserves two Cups: one for his play, and one for his hair.

Motion is necessary to properly appreciate The Forlan.

90’00” – Ladies and gentlemen, we are about two minutes away from me actually predicting a score CORRECTLY.

90’00” + 1’20”

3-2, Netherlands. Either tie it up, Uruguay, or GTFO.

Might As Well Be Fulltime – This was a great game. If not for Uruguay’s disappearing act just after midway through the second half, it would’ve been fantastic. Still, though, it was entertaining from start to finish and the Netherlands absolutely earned the win. Both teams were talented enough to beat the other, but in the end, it seemed like Uruguay were too dependent on Forlan.

Now, though, the Dutch can celebrate and enjoy their win. They battled hard for weeks and have earned the privilege of moving on to the World Cup final match and getting incinerated by the Germans. Have fun, guys!

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