Play by play

FT: Argentina 0 (4) – (2) 0 Holland. The Legend of Lionel Messi. No one will remember his performance tonight. He was influential at times and quiet at others. He tried to create, but missed his Angel. He made his penalty. Ultimately, history remembers winners and Argentina did to Holland what Holland did to Costa Rica–made them pay for poor penalties. There were few chances for both sides and Holland deserves praise for the gritty determination that got them to the semifinal. Few liked their tactics, especially Krul’s in the last shootout, but this team punches above their weight. They defend well and Louis Van Gaal’s tactics helped them embarrass the defending champs and go deep into the tournament. He’ll be missed. Maybe Mike Herrera can be coaxed into hopping the pond and adopting “Hup, Holland, Hup!” as his personal mantra. Despite their proximity to immortality, this Argentina team has a mountain standing in front of them and it just sent Brazil packing with cruelty and style. Germany will be more rested and should be favored, but for now La Albiceleste can enjoy their first World Cup final since 1990. Thanks for tuning in, friends, and we’ll see you on Saturday for the third-place match and Sunday for the final!



Dirk Kuyt…SCORES. 

Kun Aguero with the third…GOAL! Argentina 3-1. Holland must score.

Wes Sneijder…SAVED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ROMERO IS A MONSTER!!!!

Next up is Garay…HARD AND HIGH. SCORES!!! Argentina 2-1.


Generalissimo Leonard Messi…SCORES!!! Argentina 1-0.

First up…Vlaar…SAVED!!!!!!!!!!!!

FT: PENALTIES!!!!!! Uh, geez…refresh that beverage and get back here ASAP.

This is it…almost…almost…

MAXI RODRIGUEZ HITS A…pitiful volley. Messi did an amazing bit of creating against Vlaar, who had a handful of his shirt, and the ball found Maxi wide open in the box, but his one-time shot lacked any power whatsoever and Cillessen claimed it easily.

PALACIO BREAKS EVERYONE’S HEARTS. A gorgeous ball over the top and Palacio’s first touch is heavy so he tries to head over the on-rushing Cillessen. His headed “shot” barely reached Cillessen’s head. It’s not clear whether his side/back braid interfered.

Holland is sitting back. It’s up to Argentina to push, but they’re struggling to get Messi involved and the three subs (Aguero, Palacio, Rodriguez) haven’t had an impact.

Shirtless Argentines…they can’t be stopped!

The Argentine fans are singing…Zabaleta can use all the encouragement he can get.

اسمش هنوز ملتي رو به عرش مي بره#مارادونا

A video posted by ميثم زمان آبادي (@meisamzamanabadi) on

Dirk Kuyt, with a fair but rough challenge, blows up Zabaleta. He might’ve been knocked out. He might’ve lost teeth. OUCH.

15 minutes to go! I don’t know what your position on penalties is, but I find them cruel. Holland got here by beating Costa Rica in penalties.

The first half of extra time ends. Argentina had a few chances in the final minutes. Pep talk time.

Huntelaar fouls Mascherano from behind and a vigorous debate ensues. Huntelaar loses. Yellow.

If you like stats, here’s one that seems relevant. Holland had their first shot on goal in the 99th minute.

Dirk Kuyt has been great this entire tournament and especially tonight. If only Argentina had their Dirk Kuyt handy…

Robben has a go from distance. Romero does well to control it. Still seeing more pressure from the Oranje.

Holland has had all of the ball in the first seven minutes. I suspect they’re trying to push now, but will gladly sit back the last 10 minutes. That’s what my spies tell me anyway.

RVP comes off. Huntelaar comes on. You know what that means.

Argentina fans are looking nervous.

NED vs ARG (prorroga)

A photo posted by Javijaar (@javijaar) on

Holland has successfully wasted the first 90 seconds of extra time. 

Game on!

30 more minutes of extra time, folks. No sudden death. We’re locked in for 30. I’d like to point out that my initial prediction could still come true.

FT: Argentina 0-0 Holland. For much of the second half, Argentina looked poised to break through, but Holland stayed organized. In the end, it was the Oranje who could’ve put the game away. Javier “Blackout” Mascherano, however, had other plans. A heroic, if medically unwise, effort from Masch.

REWIND: Masch saves the day.

MASCHERANO MAY NOT REMEMBER THIS BUT HE JUST SAVED ARGENTINA. Robben darted into the box and Demichelis somehow didn’t take him down. Masch fought to regain the step and made a last-second sliding tackle. Robben probably could have pulled the trigger sooner.

Corner for Holland, but nothing doing. You probably missed Jasper trying to injure Aguero immediately.

An interesting insight as the end of regular time nears.

Aguero’s first contribution is interfering with Cillessen who was trying to throw the ball. That’s a yellow card ten days a week, but Maradona’s ex-son-in-law somehow gets away with it. #ConspiracyTalk

These are hard times for face painters. Here, this Avatar fanatic ran out of blue paint.

Holland looks content to sit back, only striking when the door is wide open. So far, Argentina is minding the shop. Double substitution: Aguero and Palacio are on for Perez and Higuain.

GOOO—GAAAA…HIGUAIN. An amazing ball from Lavezzi finds Pipita. He appears to score, but it hits sidenetting. He was (wrongly) whistled for offside anyway. The whole war room went crazy and then shut up. Yikes…


A photo posted by Fernando Figueiredo (@feof) on

It’s wet out there and these players know what’s at stake. That’s another way of saying clumsy is becoming “clumsy.” This thing doesn’t get to penalties without a red card. I’ll give you my prized guarantee. Martins Indi seems jealous that van Persie got this header. He looks like he has plans to hijack it.

You’ll recall our friend Alexi Lalas has the night off.

Vlaar is making some exquisite tackles. Any one of them could be yellow or red a split-second later. 

Biglia takes the brunt of a challenge and looks to be coming off. Let’s check in on some #RobbenPose suggestions.

Lavezzi does well in the corner to create space and delivers a fine cross for Higuain. Pipita attempts to head down, but is well marked and the ball is harmlessly cleared. That was Argentina’s best chance yet.

It’s not clear whether these fans purchased 15 tickets for their banner or if they’ve made an entire section move. Either way, I’m against it.

La hinchada #ARG #mundial2014

A photo posted by Luis GyG ® (@luisgyg) on

Vlaar makes an excellent tackle on Messi just as he was ready to pull the trigger. 

Argentina is passing the ball around at the back. Songs cascade down from the crowd. Meanwhile…I’m really hungry after reading this…

There’s a long way to go, but this is worth noting.

Our timing is impeccable. Granted, Demichelis fouled Robben, but the way he went to ground was spectacularly Robbenesque. Sneijder’s free-kick goes well over the goal.

REWIND: We knew it was coming and, as usual, TT is right.

The second half begins! Thanks for your #AskChurch love!

Most assists. If it’s still tied, then the player who played the fewest minutes. I am petitioning FIFA to break the tie with a karaoke contest.

The French believe there was a chicken present at the birth of Jesus. I believe the next Dan Brown novel addresses this.

I’ll assume you mean militarily. Given that Argentina fought a war more recently than Holland, I’m gonna give the nod to them. But, in the unlikely event you mean on the soccer pitch, I think it’s even. Zabaleta and Demichelis played well for Manchester City last season, but they’re hardly formidable.

I’m sorry I didn’t get to this sooner. So, Anita, I hope you got something to eat. Ugh, I’m starving. I’ve got some serious hanger. 

HT: Argentina 0-0 Holland. It’s been a half for tacticians and pro-concussionists. Aside from Messi’s free-kick, Argentina has generated few chances, despite enjoying plenty of possession. On the plus side, the Mascherano scare may have been weathered, as La Albiceleste settled well and gave Holland very little space beyond the center-line. Louis Van Gaal seemingly sent out a 3-5-2, but it’s been much more defensive than that.

Leonard is not only a goal-creating machine, he’s also a yellow card-exacting machine. Bruno Mars Indi is finally booked for hacking at Messi as he swerved in between Oranje jerseys.

A few clumsy challenges, but the ref is still content to mediate with words.

Bruno Mars Indi (it’s cooler than Martins, right?) is lucky not to be booked. Messi beat him along the sideline and BMI lined him up and body blocked him. Just a firm reprimand from the ref. Meanwhile, Sneijder grabs his hamstring, but he’s back up. 

Masch is still wandering around. Holland has not found a way to exploit his (alleged) concussion.

Didn’t believe me? Here’s the proof.

You should know that on Univision, this part of the game is sponsored by Tylenol. Seriously.

REWIND: Garay takes a boot to the face.

MASCHERANO IS DOWN. HE’S OUT. He goes up for a 50-50 ball with Wijnaldum and knocks heads. It didn’t look horrible, but the trainers are out. The replay shows him stumbling forward after the contact. I’m waiting for a Taylor Twellman tweet…

Corner swung in by Messi. Garay falls forward to head the ball. He heads high and gets kicked in the face for good measure. #LoseLose

Holland gets the ball back and slows it down. REWIND: we’ve had our first magic spray sighting.

These Argentina fans appear to have an “O” and “i” on their face, which begs the question, “Where’s the other guy with the “l” on his face.” Which begs the other question, “Why do you guys have ‘oil’ spelled out on your faces?”

Argentina presente!!👍👦⚽️ #soccer #fifaworldcup #worldcup #brasil #brasil2014 #arenacorinthians #argentina

A photo posted by DAVE VALADEZ (@davevaladez) on

Delightful sequence along the touchline from Argentina forces a corner. Messi sends in an accidentally low ball, which almost finds a teammate. Argentina are starting to find space. Just overheard muttered in the war room: “Oh my gosh.”

Free-kick for Argentina just outside the box. It’s definitely “La Pulga” territory, aka Leonardtown. Messi unloads a fierce strike around the wall, but Cillessen stays put and does well not to spill the rebound.

Mascherano makes a fantastic tackle on Robben on the the wing. He then clears it to the middle right to Sneijder who shoots well wide. 

Argentina dances around the edge of the box, but Dirk Kuyt tracks back and dispossesses Leonard. Meanwhile, look out for that Papa guy.

I’ll save a full World Cup of Thrones analysis for another day, but this may be true. They pay their debts. 

The ball wiggles its way through to Robben (yes, Brazuca can wiggle). The entire war room says, “He’s going left.” And he did. This is going to be a theme.

Argentina is being patient with the build-up, retaining possession for over a minute. The Dutch are pressing high. Nothing resembling a scoring chance yet.

Orange versus Blue & White kits, White versus Black shorts. It’s like the entire cosmos is at war with itself. 


The teams pause for a moment to pay tribute to Alfredo Di Stefano. *pours one out, asks for help mopping up*

An even better question. Sorry, Nando, but you’ve been outdone. Tonight’s battle of the cocktails is Fernet v Heineken. If we look at it a different way, it’s Beef v Weed.

Great question, young Nando. Part of me wants to say yes, but that’s the part of me that rushes to judgment, so I’m going to take a deep breath and allow the other part of me to answer. *inhale…exhale* Yes, Nando. That’s half of it. Without Di Maria, the only other offensive threat is Lavezzi. If you’ll allow me use a NFL commentator term, Holland is going to “out-physical” Argentina and that includes Messi.

I’ve always said, if you can’t express your support through impressionism, then don’t talk to me.

The Argentina v Holland battle is not only between the teams and the singers. It’s apparently between Popes, too.

Not to be outdone, the Argentines also enjoy gathering in groups and honoring their ancestors with songs about the harvest.

Just 30 minutes until the first whistle and the Dutch fans have already found their singing voices.


A video posted by caiorogano (@caiorogano) on

Let’s suppose someone wanted to #AskChurch about this outfit–specifically, whether these guys will get lucky tonight.

I love these outfits. They are the ultimate neutral fan attire. I love the tailoring and smart choice in shoes. This is so forward thinking that I feel stuck in the past. Obviously, they’re getting lucky.

@Centojack81 asks, “What hymns do they sing in your church?” Just a few hymns, actually. It’s mostly rapping and performance poetry. Here is one hymn.

Michael, this is called #AskChurch, not #TellChurch. But I’ll humor you. Unless Argentina goes Germany on Holland, I see Kun coming on by the 60th minute. If I close my eyes, I hear whistles and screaming, I see him darting here and there, and I see him kicking the ball out of play as a sporting gesture for an injured player. That’s as good as it gets for Kun today. The glory will belong to others.


Respectfully disagree, Greta. Obama is definitely the worst president since 2008. If I’m not mistaken, in that same Quinnipiac poll 73% of Americans agree with me on that.

Let’s take a quick break from #AskChurch to scope out the lineups. Holland goes with a 3-5-2. Argentina swaps Biglia for Gago. 

I’m not afraid to say that I don’t know. Until you look a man in the eye, until you break bread with him, until you endure an hour-long bikram hot yoga class next to him, you don’t really know, do you? 

I usually choose a Sonoma Coast pinot noir in the $40-50 range, chilled to 55 degrees, of course. After a few sips, I’ll think about the cosmos (not NY Cosmos, mind you), crack my knuckles, and begin. So, to answer Dai’s question, no.

Which team fares better in soggy cardboard box-like conditions? 

Also, you should take a minute to digest Tom Dart’s article on the rise and fall and rise (again) of Wes Sneijder–former almost-best player in the world who’s been hiding out in Turkey the last few years. He’s kind of the Shia LaBeouf of European soccer, though, as far as I know, he hasn’t appeared naked in a Sigur Ros video.

If you’re superstitious, take a minute to read Daiana Halac’s article about Argentine pre-match rituals. It’ll make you feel incredible normal, or possibly insane, depending on your own tendencies. If I were superstitious, I’d probably turn to food and drink-related rituals. You know, something sensible like drinking the same bottle of wine and shouting my favorite player’s name while chasing a lamb with an ax. I’m a big believer in “If it ain’t broke…”

Put on your pouty face. It’s time to get data-tastical with our friends at FiveThirtyEight, who are under fire today after yesterday’s result. Mr. Silver calculated the probability of a 7-1 Germany win at 1-in-4,000. This level of improbability from a source that went 50-for-50 in the 2012 presidential election was almost as shocking as the result on the pitch itself. Can we ever take Silver seriously again? Can we ever believe data of any kind? Should we start building a bunker to survive the apocalypse? The answer to the final question is yes. After yesterday, it’s definitely a yes. But data and other funny math schemes got us this far, so I’m not ready to fully abandon them…yet. So, what’s the prognosis for today’s match?

For Argentina, with Lionel Messi inching closer to immortality, I thought we should give Replacement Anthem honors to the man teetering on the throne.

This is the 62nd match of the 2014 World Cup, so by now you know we like to offer Replacement Anthems in lieu of the national anthems you’ll hear on the pitch. Usually, we choose songs by musicians from a particular country (Seu Jorge for Brazil, for example). Today, for Holland, however, I’m going to choose a song that was written in Amsterdam because, in a weird way, that makes it Dutch. Plus, this is the closest that Chris Martin may ever get to a World Cup final. #EnglandBurn

I’m not sure whether this is good or bad news for Holland. Rihanna, who is known for her fierce loyalty of whoever-she-loves-in-the-moment, has thrown her support to the Oranje.

The first bit of good news for Argentina: they’ve arrived in Sao Paolo. Experts have said that actually being in Sao Paolo will be a crucial part of their gameplan.

Argentina arrived in Brazil with significantly higher expectations than Holland. This was largely due to one Lionel Messi, the Southern Hemisphere Advantage™, and their favorable draw. However, along the way, they failed to convince–relying heavily on Messi’s heroics to eke by weak competition. Not having a healthy Kun Aguero might be an excuse versus contenders, but not against the likes of Iran and Nigeria. Now, with Kun fit, they find themselves without Angel Di Maria, who tore a muscle against Belgium. Alejandro Sabella might find it even more difficult to replace the prancing Angel Di Slumdog Marillionia (I admit, I tried too hard there), which means it’s time for the team to coalesce around its talented core and start exceeding expectations. And Leonard Messi, well…

This might be the worst Holland team in decades. And they’re on the cusp of advancing to their second consecutive World Cup final. What they lack in talent–and they don’t lack much–they more than make up for in physicality, organization, and sheer perseverance. They won the difficult Group B, dispatching Spain almost as ruthlessly as that match you watched yesterday (and whose name we shall not speak). In the Round of 16, they were on their death bed against Miguel Herrera’s Mexico before conjuring a five-minute spell that turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 victory. Arjen Robben’s flop aside, it was an impressive feat. Then, in the quarterfinal against another CONCACAF Cinderella, Costa Rica, Louis Van Gaal pulled another rabbit out of his ever-deepening hat and sent on substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul for the penalty shootout. Los Ticos did not shoot the ball well, which might’ve been the result of fatigue, or perhaps Krul’s intimidation tactics. Either way, the Dutch prevailed and extended their run at least one more episode.

Welcome to the Arena de São Paulo for the second semifinal match between the Oranjemen of Holland and La Albiceleste of Argentina!

Belo Horizonte is 362 miles from Sao Paolo, but not even the midday sun here can fully escape the gloom.

Eerie silence. Smoldering ruins. In the distance, towering gray cumulonimbus clouds. The Germans didn’t even bother to raise a flag. They just moved on. But we can’t. We’re left to wallow in this post-apocalyptic landscape where yesterday’s world is now a mythological city that we’ll never re-discover. Today, our task is to move forward, develop new expectations and conventions, and pretend that Holland versus Argentina will unfold in a not-unthinkable manner.