Monday, July 5, 2010

And Then There Were Four...

The semifinals of the world's greatest sporting event are upon us, with Uruguay facing off against the Netherlands on Tuesday, and Germany battling Spain on Wednesday, each for a place in the final.

The last week of competition has left some nations heartbroken, to say nothing of those of us in the first annual Bellingham View World Cup pool.

Here's what happened since we last checked in...

* As of last Sunday, Stu's remaining teams were Spain and Paraguay

* In the round of 16, Spain outlasted Portugal 1-0, while Paraguay played Japan to a soulless 0-0 draw, advancing by a 5-3 margin on penalty kicks

* This set up a quarterfinal matchup between Spain and Paraguay, so Stu was guaranteed to lose one squad. It turned out to be the South Americans, as La Seleccion -- behind yet another late-game goal from Barcelona-bound striker David Villa -- advanced with a 1-0 victory

* Can Spain stop the steamrolling Mannschaft? Vamos a ver.

* Remaining team: Spain

* As of last Sunday, my remaining teams were Portugal and Japan

* From the entry above, you can see that Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal couldn't match the Spaniard Villa's brilliance, and the Japan was unable to repeat its dead-ball prowess from the Denmark match and failed to advance past Paraguay

* Eliminated

* As of last Sunday, Kimo's remaining teams were Brazil and Ghana

* Pre-tournament favorites Brazil looked stellar in the group stage and even moreso in their 3-1 victory over Chile in the round of 16, combining a sturdy Dunga-mandated defense with a strong attack. So, it was not a shock to see them go up 1-0 through Robinho within the first quarter-hour against the Netherlands, and narrowly miss going up 2-0 through Kaka just past the half-hour mark. What was a shock, however, was to see them give up two Wesley Sneidjer goals, then have to play a good deal of the second half a man down after Felipe Melo's stupid stomping of the otherwise lamentable Arjen Robben. No samba in Brazil this year.

* People with far greater writing ability than I have failed to come up with words that would adequately describe the sporting tragedy that was Ghana's hearbreaking loss to Uruguay in the quarterfinals. I still don't believe what I saw unfold on that TV screen, but Ghana is out, and we can only hope that the cheating Uruguayans will be rolled in humiliating fashion by the Dutch.

* Eliminated

* As of last Sunday, John's three remaining teams were the Argentina, the Netherlands and Slovakia, the latter two of which met in the round of 16

* The upstart Slovakians couldn't keep the momentum of their historic defeat of the defending world champions Italy, losing 2-1 to the Netherlands, who then went on to deliver the above-mentioned knockout punch to Brazil

* Argentina was demolished 4-0 by a rampaging Germany squad, ending Diego Maradona's hopes of doing the World Cup double of winning as both a player and coach

* I'll be rooting for the Dutch to destroy Uruguay; oddly enough, John won't be, as a win will put the Oranje one victory from joining the exclusive club of World Cup winners, an outcome that offends Mr. Chamberlain's sensibilities to no end

* Remaining team: Netherlands

* As of last Sunday, Dave's remaining teams were Germany, Uruguay and Chile

* The Chileans were dispatched with ease by Brazil

* As stated above, Germany continued its roll through the competition by crushing Argentina, and Uruguay parlayed a last-second goal-line handball/straight red card into an improbable and undeserved berth in the semis

* Remaining teams: Germany, Uruguay