World Cup Brazil 2014, Part Six.

The depressing funk stage of the World Cup– those breaks between the last few rounds, when you realize that there are only a few matches left and then no more World Cup for four more years– is over, and it’s on to the consolation match and the final. I’d like to see FIFA work in more consolation matches featuring more eliminated teams so that not a single day goes by without a match being played. Maybe in 2018.

Argentina’s win over the Netherlands was one of the tighter, and I think smarter, games of the tournament. I switched my pick to Holland because they looked better throughout the tournament than Argentina did. The Dutch weren’t that good in the first half, but played much stronger in the second and I thought for sure they’d win. Nope. In an odd way, Holland’s loss in PKs made van Gaal look even smarter for subbing Krul in for Cillessen against Costa Rica. This time: no Krul, no saves. Oh well. Messi’s time to shine on the big stage.

There’s nothing that can be said about Brazil’s loss to Germany that hasn’t already been said. For the first 30 minutes of the match, I could only check the score via the FIFA app on my phone. At first, I thought someone had hacked the app and was fooling around. Nope. Brazil really did play that horribly, and 7-1 doesn’t capture how bad it was. I have never seen such a poor defensive effort on such a big stage. Brazil just plain quit. That’s two cups in a row (maybe three, I don’t remember Brazil’s elimination in 2006) that Brazil seems to have simply flaked out and mentally collapsed. The loss of Neymar and Thiago Silva is no excuse, and the rest of the team owes those two an apology.

I think Germany will win the rubber match against Argentina. I can’t call them a lock because (A) Messi’s on the other team, (B) Argentina aren’t pushovers and played well against Holland, the most Germany-like team out there, and (C) the Germans may have used up all their goals in the semifinal. I just hope it’s an insanely entertaining, high-scoring final.

Oh, and I’ll take the Dutch in the third place match.