Messi bids for glory, Alves says farewell
Argentina and Germany go head to head on Saturday afternoon in the latest instalment of one of the World Cup’s classic rivalries. However, Alves packs his bags as Brazil crash out.
Argentina have had a Jekyll and Hyde quality about them in recent times, struggling to qualify from
the South American qualifying phase only to transform into a goal scoring machine in South Africa.
They’ve won all four of their games so far, scoring 10 and conceding 2. Meanwhile, a young
German side has impressed with three wins (just the one defeat against Serbia) including a
devastating 4-1 dismissal of England in the previous round.
Messi fitness doubt
Leo Messi has
established himself as one of the stars of the tournament despite not hitting the net –
he’s had more shots without scoring than any other player in the tournament – but
missed training recently due to a slight temperature. However, Maradona is confident Messi will be
fit in time for the match. And there’s an additional motivation for Leo - a possible
semi-final thriller against his Barca team-mates in the Spain squad.
One for the forwards
This match has all the signs of being a high-scoring affair with both sides boasting a wealth
of attacking talent. Apart from Messi, Argentina can call on Gonzalo Higuain – tournament top
scorer along with Barca’s David Villa – Carlos Tevez and Di Maria, while Germany have
the exciting talents of Klose, Özil, Müller and Podolski. Argentina in particular have looked a
little fragile in defence at times and both sides have a number of defenders just one yellow away
from a suspension.
The pedigree of the duel is demonstrated by the fact that the two countries have accumulated
five World Cup win between them: Germany in 1954, 1974 and 1990; Argentina in 1978 and 1986. In
1986 and 1990 they both reached the final, sharing the spoils evenly.
Alves goes home
Messi’s Barca team-mate, Dani Alves has had to bow out of the competition after Brazil were
beaten 2-1 by Holland on Friday. Dani played the full 90 minutes in the third consecutive match in
which he has featured in the starting line-up, taking up his usual midfield role in front of
Maicon. He had four shots on goal and combined with Luis Fabiano to set up Robinho for an early
goal that was disallowed for offside.
Brazil dominated the first half and took the lead just a couple of minutes after the offside
incident – once again Robinho was the finisher. However, Dunga’s men were unable to
take advantage of their possession to extend the lead before halftime.
After the break, Brazil were rocked by an own goal by Felipe Melo, who headed into his own
net after a Wesley Sneijder cross (min.53).
Holland take the lead
Dani Alves almost fired Brazil back into the lead with a powerful shot from outside the box
but it was Holland who went ahead after Sneijder headed in from a corner. Brazil’s chances of
staging a comeback were weakened when the hapless Melo was sent off some fifteen minutes from time
and for the second tournament running Brazil were eliminated in the quarterfinals.