Player of the Round:
Amongst the star men in that other semifinal were Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano and Netherlands centre-back Ron Vlaar. The Argentinean midfield maestro may have suffered a head injury in the first-half, but he duly got back up and went about his usual business, with that one key tackle on Arjen Robben near the end. Mascherano also played the role of rally leader just before the penalty shootout. Vlaar might have had his crucial first penalty saved, but he marshalled his defence really well and gave Lionel Messi and co. with little space to work with. At least he had the guts to take the first penalty, when apparently two other Dutchmen shied away from the responsibility.
However, this honour should go to someone who played in that historic match at Belo Horizonte, and that person who stood out amongst a team of star personnel is Bayern’s Toni Kroos. He was involved in everything good that came about for Germany, threading the ball through for Thomas Muller to assist Miroslav Klose’s record breaking 16 World Cup goal. Kroos then went one better and scored a magnificent left-footed volley, before scoring his second – Germany’s fourth that effectively utterly deflated Brazilian morale – after dispossessing the hapless Fernandinho and exchanging passes with Sami Khedira. Kroos controlled the whole game and pressed well. He will be the Germans’ key, not only for Sunday’s final, but for many tournaments on the horizon.
Shock of the Round:
What else? Brazil’s sudden and abrupt capitulation in the supposed road to securing their sixth World Cup on home soil. A tournament win to justify all the problems they faced in the build up. Instead, the Brazilians had to endure a six goal-margin defeat. Half of Germany’s goals came from Brazil’s left hand side, exposing the overly offensive Marcelo. The other few came from going at the heart of the team, where David Luiz had a shocker in central defence, without his influential partner Thiago Silva. Less said about Luiz, the better.
Goal of the Round:
Since it was goalless in the other match, it was only a choice between 8 goals in the other one. And as in the last 16, this honour goes to Andre Schürrle and his second goal, Germany’s seventh and final nail in Brazil’s coffin. Collecting the ball in the inside left channel of Brazil’s box, Schürrle only needed to take one touch before rifling an unstoppable left-footed strike past the then-probably-depressed Julio Cesar, via the crossbar. It was so good that even the Brazilians started applauding the goal – though some suspected it was a sarcastic response to their own team’s piss poor performance.
Effect of the Round:
This round leaves a nation mourning, with little mood for Brazil’s next game, the 3rd/4th playoff with the Netherlands. Even the Dutch have admitted that they see no point in this consolation match. The Germans are the huge favourites now, though Messi might have one last say on that, having been relatively quiet in the knockout stages so far. Oddly, the Germans may feel like they are the home team coming into the final at the Maracana, even though it is on South American soil. The Brazilians will definitely be backing the Europeans to the tilt, praying and hoping that there will be no Argentinian celebrations come full-time on Sunday night.
May the best team win.