More proof of Lionel Messi’s outer-worldly blessings: when the Argentine captain cannot get the job done, he delegates to an Angel!
There was a new name on the Argentina score sheet today but a similar outcome as the South American hopefuls advanced to the Brazil 2014 World Cup quarterfinal round by a single goal after a 1-0 win over Switzerland.
Two minutes from the end of extra time and with penalties looming, Messi appointed Angel Di Maria as acting Prime Minister of Messi-donia with a clever assist that his lanky compatriot steered past Switzerland goalkeeper Diego Benaglio for the game’s only goal.
Benaglio was born a year after Argentina legend Diego Maradona joined Barcelona for a then world record fee in 1982; and his parents named him “Diego” in honour of the greatest player of that era. Yet the Swiss custodian never seemed remotely interested in forming a guard of honour to usher Maradona’s heir, Messi, into the next stage.
Maybe Benaglio has daddy issues.
The goalkeeper’s defiant streak was echoed by his compatriots; and, in particular, gifted little playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri, who looked like a volatile toddler with the biceps of a dock worker but the touch of an artist.
Swiss rolls? Not these guys.
The game followed a familiar pattern for the Argentina players as they faced an opponent intent on defending with numbers while waiting for the chance to land a sucker punch. Switzerland managed 37 percent possession today while Messi’s previous three victims managed 39, 24 and 41 respectively.
But, with Shaqiri, Switzerland possessed a potent threat and he conjured the best chance of the first half; only for Josip Drmic’s attempted chip to fall straight into the arms of opposing goalkeeper Sergio Romero.
Swiss substitute Blerim Dzemaili had the best opportunity of the match, seconds before the end of extra time, but could only divert Shakiri’s cross off the post before the rebound ricocheted off him for a goal kick.
Argentina was not so wasteful. In the 118th minute, Messi picked up the ball in opposition territory, hurdled one challenge and considered a shot himself before assigning the task to Di Maria.
And the Angel followed his divine instructions to the tee.
There was more drama today as the gutsy United States team was finally dragged from the 2014 World Cup; but not before the “Yankees” gave fancied European outfit, Belgium, a helluva fright.
Belgium had twice as much efforts on goal than the US and controlled proceedings for much of the opening 90 minutes. But the North American team should have settled the match before extra time.
Substitute Chris Wondolowski is half-native American and has the tattoo of his tribal name “Bau Daigh”—which means “Warrior coming over the hill”—on his right ribcage. Unfortunately, he kicked the ball over that hill in second half stoppage time after being teed up in the opposing area by teammate Jermaine Jones.
Belgium coach Marc Wilmots reacted by sending on powerful 21-year-old striker Romelu Lukaku who replaced the even more precocious 19-year-old whiz, Divock Origi.
And Lukaku was irrepressible as he barged through the American defence to set up the opener for midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, a former Genk teammate of Trinidad and Tobago international Khaleem Hyland, in the 93rd minute before grabbing a maiden World Cup goal for himself in the 105th minute.
United States coach Jürgen Klinsmann, a former Germany World Cup winner and coach, responded by sending on 19-year-old Julian Green, who is one of five squad players born and/or grown in Germany.
Within seconds, Green halved the deficit. But the US could get no closer as Belgium waffled into the quarterfinal round and a date with Messi’s Argentina.
Today’s World Cup action
Round of 16
Argentina 1 (Angel Di Maria 118), Switzerland 0
Belgium 2 (Kevin De Bruyne 93, Romelu Lukaku 105), United States 1 (Julian Green 107)
Star of the Day
Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku finally lived up to his star billing, albeit as a substitute.
United States defender Matt Besler bounced off Lukaku like Wile E Coyote running into a rubber wall as the England Premier League forward steamed into the opposing penalty box to set up the first goal. And Lukaku demonstrated his finishing skill for Belgium’s second item with a precise finish that surprised American goalkeeper and his Everton colleague Tim Howard.
Villain of the Day
Argentina defender Federico Fernandez is the guy in every group of friends who tries to make himself invisible whenever another round of drinks is required. In other words, he isn’t exactly chipping in with his teammates’ success.
Switzerland forward Josip Drmic, who managed three goals in two years for his country and has never scored in a competitive international fixture, annoyed too as he tried to dink a one-on-opportunity against Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero and only succeeded in offering the most delicate of back passes.
But, sadly, it is United States forward Chris Wondolowski who gets the pick today. There was nothing wonderful about his effort against Belgium today, which was the ugliest thing at the World Cup after Rodrigo Palacio’s haircut.
Wondolowski, whose mother is Native American, is a member of the Kiowa Tribe; and his proud comrades held their first ever soccer camp last year. If his tribesmen are as loyal as Trinis, that camp might soon be haemorrhaging members like the Life Sport programme.
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Really looking forward to the quarter finals with BRAZ/ARG vs the two pre tournament dark horses now.
The dark horses in different ways have lived up to potential and i reckon they have the skills to upset both of the S American giants weaknesses. It all depends if game day pressure and lack of never playing at this stage before, will get the better of them.
Yes impressive. Another point to note is that all the last 8 teams and most of the last 16, are in the top 30 world rankings. So while people busy watching country, the facts remains that these are all well playing well ranked teams. Costa Rica is the lowest ranked at 28th. Switzerland mind you, are ranked 6th. By The FIFA..
The diminutive Swiss Pocket Knife Shaqiri was only able to entertain rather than to help his side to victory with his mesmerizing play. Rodrigues, Djourou were standouts for the Swiss also.
Argentina seemed to be cooking cow heel soup with them given all that pressure in the second half. Argentina had 22 shots on goal and 12 corners. Di Maria came down the left, right, left again. A one man Robben-Ribery show. He didn’t ketch he tanty but certainly ketch he nen-nen to score.
For anyone reading recent posts on Argentina and seeing this game, Messi played just behind three attackers and the ball possession went to 68%. The goal went through him.
Thankfully the Argentine coach is also updated with the threads from Wired 868 to have Messi play behind 3 attackers. It wasn’t Gago who would hold up the ball or Alvarez who is zippier than Palacio but this is where he should play.
This is where his tiki taka ability and instinct would kick in. The other attackers however play side on and seldom look for wall passes. They need to recognise his strength if they are in with a chance. Let’s face it, he’s no Juan Roman Riquelme who can unlock defences in tight spaces, angles, just somehow! Messi is now in the correct position but still underutilised.
After 120 plus minutes, Messi didn’t even break a sweat. This is a crucial factor to have going into the next round. Again he was spared a yellow in this game. Benaglio in yellow though was the big Swiss Cheese. He was the boss between the sticks.
In USA and Belgium, I can only exclaim:
What a dog fight! An NFL football star might have been under the microscope by his probation officer even if he was spotted in the cheap seats of this game. The best of the tournament so far.
18 saves in 1 game by 35yr old Tim Howard is absolutely insane. Belgium had 38 out of the 52 shots of both teams27 of which were on target. Almost a shot every 3 mins. The USA defended 19 corners. Sounds like NBA numbers eh! Any ah allyuh really think T&T could withstand 38 shots from any side and only get bore twice? Seriously?
Guys pay attention to what Keith look Loy said that a big gap now exists between these concacaf World Cup teams and the rest of concacaf. Americans like timarie or wild malanga dasheen, ‘dey cyar dead just so’. Just won’t go down without a fight.
They were, as other threads in Wired 868 will confirm, the hardest team to beat in this World Cup. They have more guts plus violin strings by showing how to sweeten the dregs of a game and make more juice. Pure entertainment.
The Belgian defence is stingy like the shopkeeper in a long-time parlour in my neighbourhood. A fantastic goal was yielded by a maybe green Green though. Sadly, the team with the most broken noses won’t be around to match up against the team with the most hairdressers.
Innovations from both managers on their benches stood out in the end. Take care the Germany flag end up flyin’ sideways at the end of that Argentina game on Saturday LL. Prince Borde may be on to something.
Belgium beat Argentina? You have to be high on waffles Prince Borde! Lol
True Kirk A Inniss at the end though the cream rises to the top. All group winners advance.
Looking more and more likely but these extra time games in abundance may take a heavy toll on these players!
Lasana Liburd With that young man in goal Belgium has never lost! Argentina in for a tough match up.
Brazil-Argentina final taking shape.
Meanwhile we taking every single win anyway it come. Good, bad or ugly. Yes sometimes we want to enjoy a beautiful game. Sometimes though it helps to remember this is the World Cup, not a beauty pageant:)
And yet Messi decided four games in the World Cup already. I figure that fellah must really be good in true oui. 🙂
It is difficult to weave through 11 men and score. Sometimes there are wider spaces, but most teams so far have seen enough youtube videos of Messi to know how deadly he can be if given half a chance. All game there was a sea of red before Messi. He might be the most gifted player on earth, but he not Moses..
Most people following these games expecting the favorites to run amok of other supposedly weak teams defense. Nobody bothering to give the So called weak teams much credit. These games every team has fight and not one single team rolling over.
Sim I forgot about Costa Rica yes, sorry eh LOL
Earl Mango Pierre don’t bad talk CONCACAF…Costa Rica is still in this tournament.
Not to be too rude, but in my opinion Brazil & Argentina fighting hard to beat Spain’s performance in 2010 as one of the most depressing champions ever.
World Cup is like our Panorama yes, ah set ah talk, about this team and that team eh, and Concacaf teams, Central Americans, and the African teams are not ready ent, and we always see the big teams that is always in the final. steeuppss and already as usual the Americans talking about 2018 the same like our soca warriors talking about 2018 ent, Them really good yes.
If Messi misfires I’ve not seen any other player stepping up to the plate.
It is not always a case of wanting to defend in numbers eh. It is if Fellaini and company can get the ball off us and keep it.
The best ball playing teams in the other half of the draw. Germany, Colombia and, to an extent, France. (Notice I ent mention Brazil? Don’t feel bad. Brazil is better on the break).
On this side, teams like the Netherlands and the rest don’t really try to hold on to the ball. They just look to play on the counter.
I cannot see Belgium defending in numbers as they have little to lose especially as we all can see Argentina isn’t playing as everyone thought they would including Amery Browne…….Lol
We will take that run for our money. There aren’t many easy games in this World Cup.
But Argentina has plenty of practice with teams that want to defend in numbers. And eventually Messi will get some space to do his thing.
Somehow I doubt Belgium would be much different although they do have more quality upfront for sure.
I actually think that Belgium are going to give Argentina a serious run for their money.
I wish them games start tomorrow!
I predict Belgium beat Argentina 2-1
Tim Howard is a superhero, no joke
Great games to come
Good fight Sim Sim… USA could have won it before extra time too.
No runners up have won!
And all of heaven backing him… And hell rooting for him.
Tell me Rhoda Bharath… Which other team has a football god AND an Angel? 🙂
Good rescued is ah good description.