Life really getting in the way this week, sorry for the delay. I really don't know how all the multiple posts a day bloggers do it...
Brasil 2-2 Uruguay, 5-4 PSO
As I stated earlier, I had a funny feeling one of these matches was going to go to PKs, and this one was it. Brasil went ahead twice only for Uruguay to equalize in what was a very good match. Brasil always looked in control, but Uruguay always bring a little something against their old rivals and neighbors, and always seem to carry the self belief that comes with handing Brasil their most painful defeat in it's existence, on it's own home soil, in the most attended football match in the history of man.
So after 90 minutes it was straight to PKs, and what an exciting shootout it was. Forlan's 1st for Uruguay was awful and easily saved, and Brasil were up for the first half of the shoot out, but then they had a dude hit the post and Uruguay tied it up. After 5 kicks it was still even; in the 6th round Brasil hit the post again, so miraculously Uruguay now had 1 kick to defeat Brasil and move on to the final. Dude's shot easily beat the keeper and looked for all the world that it was going into the corner, but then it hit the post as well. In the 7th round Brasil scored and then Uruguay's shot was saved and the super exciting shootout came to an anticlimactic conclusion as yet another referee refused to enforce the rules and allowed a goalkeeper to come a good 3 yards off his line before the kick was taken, and he saved the penalty. Yes, some of the blame lies with the kicker, as this penalty was very poor, but still, such blatant cheating should not be allowed. Sevilla'a Palop did the same thing with the final kick of the UEFA Cup shootout earlier this year, and it is just annoying that when a goalie cheats so badly and comes so far out that the referee does not simply order a re-kick. Makes no sense to me, and had always bothered me since Brainna Scurry did it on all 5 penalties in the 1999 Women's World Cup final vs. China, which is forever forgotten because OMG Brandi Chastain took her shirt off. The remarkable thing about that penalty shootout, where the USA made all 5 kicks and China made it's first 4, is that China made 4 out of 5 with Scurry almost out to the 6 yard box every time; I remember being more impressed with that feat than with the US team making all 5 with the China keeper obeying the rules. Anyways I hope for the day that a referee will grow a pair and call for a re-kick when the rules are so clearly breached.
So on to the final for Brasil. That's the good news. The bad news is that Gilberto Silva, captain and "invisible wall" who expertly shields & provides cover for the back 4, will miss the final due to card accumulation when he picked up an incredibly ticky-tack yellow card in the final minutes of the match. Normally reserved Gilberto went a bit mental to the referee, so you know that he immediately knew what it meant and was gutted that he would be missing the final.
Argentina 3-0 Mexico
These two teams had played the best footy for the entire tournament, and it looked like if anyone was going to perhaps beat Argentina that Mexico might be able to do it. You also knew that Mexico would be super motivated to have another shot at Argentina after their epic World Cup Round of 16 match last summer, which was one of the best of the entire tournament and ended in heartbreak for Mexico when Maxi Rodriguez scored the goal of the World Cup to give Argentina a famous 2-1 win and send Mexico home.
The match was very tight for an hour, with Mexico hitting the woodwork twice and Argentina scoring a goal just before halftime when Heinze took advantage of some poor defending and latched onto a Riquelme free kick.
About the hour mark things were settled pretty quickly. First, two quick passes put Messi semi through but not really, as a defender was closing him down quickly and he was at a terrible angle. So he simply decided to score the goal of the tournament thusfar, which is saying something in this goal fest of a competition. He received the ball, and in a split second, and without breaking stride, chipped the keeper, which was the only way he could have scored from where he was and where the keeper was. By the time Messi kicked the ball, the defender had recovered and was between him and the goal, and the goalkeeper was well positioned giving him no angle to score. The slow, high, loopy chip was absolutely perfect and just looked even better because of the futile way that the goalie tried in vain to get to it. A really special goal for Lionel, especially that he did it on a full run without breaking stride and as a split second decision. But then again, it's Messi, and he's is doing special, special shit every time out these days.
Que ridiculo golaso del Messi
2 minutes later and Carlito Tevez made a meal out of some contact with Rafa Marquez and sold a 32 piece set of a penalty to the referee better than Uncle Rico ever could have. Riquelme slotted it for 3-0 and that was game, set and match.
So Brasil-Argentina, El Super Clasico Del Sudamerica, in the final, which is what most of the world has been foaming at the mouth over for 2 weeks now. As you might guess, these two have quite a history as neighbors and powers of world football, and their rivalry is, umm, intense.
Argentina would be solid favorites even if Gilberto was playing for Brasil. Without him, it will be even tougher for Brasil to snuff out Argentina's massive arsenal of attacks. I can't really see Brasil winning to be honest, but considering the magnitude of this rivalry, anything is possible, and remember, if it's tied then we go straight to penalty kicks where literally anything can happen.
Prediction Argentina 3-1 Brasil.
The match is on Univision at 2 p.m. PST today. Enjoy.