Sunday, December 11, 2022

Tension and surprises

 I have had a lovely weekend with great friends and traveling half across the world, so have had limited time to reflect on the semifinals.

I watched Argentina's match in a nice bar in San Salvador. Over beers and ribs I suffered greatly: Argentina apparently had the match under control after Nahuel Molina and Lionel Messi had brought them ahead 0-2, but Wout Weghorst, coming on for the Dutch, scored two for the Dutch to equalize and take it into extra time and an eventual nerve-wrecking penalty shootout.

I shit my pants as Argentina's Emiliano Martinez, Dibu, held strong and saved the penalties from Virgil Van Dijk and Steven Berghuis, with Lautaro Martinez in the end scoring the winner for Argentina.

It was an intense and dramatic match, but most of all, ugly, full of hate, mutual provocation, and a referee, Antonio Mateu Lahoz, that interestingly was accused by both sides of favouring the other side (maybe in the end that is the greatest compliment to a referee's neutrality). It is a pity that these players descend into that state of primitive cave-man mentality, but hey, that is why these guys are all footballers: they lack brains to be anything else.

As to Argentina: can they be World Champions? Yes, all four semifinalists can. But they are not the best or most stable team of the four. They could win the whole thing or end up losing 0-3 to the Croatians as they did in 2018

Because watch out for Croatia! Just as four years ago in the semifinals after two penalty shootouts, and having eliminated a great Brazilian side! Because Brazil were great and it is truly sad to see them eliminated, but they lost again to a strong European side (Brazil has not defeated a European side in a World Cup knockout match since 2002!) who proved disciplined, organized and were not at all intimidated at playing against Brazil.

Morocco are the first African team ever to make it into a semifinal, and that in itself is truly historical, besides the fact that they repeated their feat of 1986 by defeating a Portuguese side that had not watched Morocco's other matches. It is great and refreshing to finally see and African team through, and they will face their biggest challenge in France, the defending World Champions, but also a country with which they have strong bonds; I hope it will be a fair and great match of mutual respect rather than the hateful nationalistic shit we are seeing in the tournament.

If not, rather watch Netflix.

1 comment:

Tuff said...

Argentina are looking to reach their sixth World Cup final, while Croatia are hoping to write themselves into the history books.
History of football