Spain was lucky to eke out a win against Paraguay and match their best World Cup performance ever. In the other quarterfinal Saturday, Germany couldn't have been farther from "eking" its way to victory.
Germany 4, Argentina 0
There's no sugarcoating it. Argentina got served. The team picked by many as tournament favorites (including in the poll in Wednesday's quarterfinal preview) looked like boys among men against Germany at Green Point Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
"Die Mannschaft" turned in what must be considered the most impressive performance of the tournament, using typical German organization, discipline and effort to overpower the more talented but strategically overmatched Argentines.
Questions had been posed throughout the tournament about the level of quality of Argentina's defense and goalkeeping. Clearly, there was a definitive answer. They couldn't cut it against the Germans.
Just three minutes in, 20-year-old German phenom Thomas Muller got his head on the end of a Lukas Podolski free kick to score, and from there, Germany was off to the races.
While Argentina looked competitive for much of the latter portion of the first half, Diego Maradona's side barely threatened to score a goal. The team of Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuain, Maxi Rodriguez and Lionel Messi may have outshot and outpossessed the Germans, but those numbers are incredibly deceiving. Argentina's lack of width (they used a diamond formation) or discipline in midfield made life very easy for the German defense.
Messi, who has received laughable amounts of hype over the course of the competition, despite going scoreless, again underwhelmed — even if the announcers claimed he was "doing so much without scoring."
On the attack, Germany was nothing short of brilliant. Miroslav Klose, questioned for only scoring three goals for his club (Bayern Munich) this season, surpassed that number for this World Cup in his 100th international appearance. He also surpassed German legend Gerd Muller with his 14th World Cup goal. Only Brazil's Ronaldo has more.
Midfielders Bastian Schweinstager, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira also all impressed in midfield, and defender Arne Friedrich netted his first ever international goal.
About his team's performance, Diego Maradona could only say: "Are you joking? This is a country where you live and breathe football. I don't think that any will be happy when the team loses 4-0."
Mick Jagger was again on hand for the match, as were German Prime Minister Angela Merkel and Leonardo DiCaprio, who was donning a WVU hat.
Spain 1, Paraguay 0
For the fourth game in a row, David Villa bailed out a relatively unimpressive Spain team as "La Furia Roja" advanced to the semifinals.
In terms of tactics and effort, the Paraguayans — in their first ever World Cup quarterfinal — clearly bested favorites Spain and, as has been the case so many times in the tournament, can perhaps blame the referees for their loss.
Opting to play fresh players and furiously press Spain from the first minute, Paraguay looked like the better team for much of the first half and had a goal taken away by an incorrect offsides call that drastically altered the complexion of the game.
In the 59th minute, the game pretty much spun out of control, with Spain's Gerard Pique committing a blatant foul in the penalty box on Oscar Cardozo, who was subsequently stopped by Spanish captain Iker Casillas on his penalty attempt. Just seconds later, Paraguay's Antonio Alcaraz brought David Villa down from behind on his way to goal, resulting in a penalty kick in the other direction. Xabi Alonso converted the spot kick, but the penalty was disallowed because a Spanish player had encroached on the penalty area during the shot. On the second attempt, Paraguay captain Justo Villar stopped Alonso's effort.
Arguably, both fouls merited red cards.
Spain finally broke through when Villar found himself out of position as the ball came to Andres Iniesta in the penalty area. Iniesta's shot hit the post, but was followed up by David Villa, whose shot managed to hit both posts before rattling in.
Villa's goal put him in the lead for the tournament's "Golden Shoe" with five goals, but Germany has two players, Klose and Muller, who have four each, as does Holland's Wesley Sneijder.
With just minutes left, Paraguay's Roque Santa Cruz had an open rebound attempt from fewer than 10 yards away, but Casillas made a brilliant save with his foot as he fell to the ground.
Paraguay's effort was impressive and gutsy, but Casillas, Villa and the referees proved too much for the upstart nation to overcome.
Netherlands vs Uruguay, July 6, 2:30 p.m. ET
Germany vs Spain, July 7, 2:30 p.m. ET
While four South American teams reached the quarterfinals, only one — Uruguay — advanced past the round.
Here is the complete World Cup schedule.
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