Carlo told you that the Dutch could win, and I told you they would. Twice. And today they made us both look smarter than we are in a crazy, crazy game that had a little bit of everything.
A tale of two halves for sure. Brasil dominated the first half, and tonight will be kicking themsleves for not getting that 2nd goal that would likely have put the game out of reach. On the other hand, Netherlands goalkeeper Stekelenburg should be hailed as the 1st half hero who singlehandedly kept Holland in the game, especially his amazing save from Kaka's corner bound shot that may well have ended the game. Brasil's goal was well taken by Robinho, but also showed Holland's weakness at centreback. Absolutely terrible defending & not 1 but 2 out of position centrebacks left right winger Robben trying, and failing, to track Robinho's diagonal run into the Dutch box.
How Do You Say "Meltdown" In Portuguese?
When Holland snuck a weird goal (bad judgment & missed punch by Cesar, unlucky own goal by Melo, and a flukey shot/cross reminiscent of Ronaldinho's goal against England in 2002) to make it 1-1, Brasil flat out melted down. It is understandable that they were frustrated, as they repeatedly were getting run ragged by Arjen Robben while also having to deal with his despicable diving & faking- today Robben was Ronaldo, Rivaldo, and the entire nation of Italy all rolled into one. On the other hand, he ran Bastos ragged and as always created a mismatch for the opposition defense. Either way, Brasil were clearly rocked by the tying goal, and started to get more & more frustrated. And when Robben was fouled but fell to ground dramatically and faked injury for the 473rd time, Melo short circuited and stamped on him while he lay prone on the ground, earning a deserved red card. As risible as Robben was today, this was just inexcusable for Melo, as he and everyone else has not forgotten Rooney getting sent off for the same thing against Portugal in 2006 and Zidane getting the most famous red card of all time for losing his temper in the waning moments of the 2006 World Cup final. As pissed as he was, you just cannot lose your cool there and reduce your team to 10 men. He will not be welcomed back with smiles and cheers in Brasil- today he became the 1st player in World Cup history to score an own goal *and* get a red card. Ouch. (or maybe he's the 3rd such player- see comments section).
Oh, the game winning Dutch goal- almost forgot. It was the least expected headed goal- corner kick headed on by not especially tall Kuyt and headed in by flat out short Sneijder- since 5'7" Lionel Messi's leaped into the stratosphere and headed Barcelona 2-0 up on Manchester United to seal victory in the 2009 Champions league final. Ping-pong-ping, and in the flash of an eye it was 2-1 to Netherlands, and a few moments later Melo's meltdown reduced Brasil to 10 men and all of the Brasilian momentum from the first half was a distant memory.
With Brasil out, Massive Opportunities for Holland, Ghana, Uruguay
Netherlands are the big winners today, and will be favored to beat the Uruguay-Ghana winner and get to the final, but the other big big winners today are Ghana and Uruguay themselves. Whoever wins the match today will *mentally* have a less difficult route to the world cup final, and given that Holland's defense is their weak point and due to card accumulation De Jong and Van Der Weil will both miss the semifinal, either team will fancy their chances against Holland more than the mighty, mythical Brasil, who before today had not lost a World Cup match held outside of Europe since 1950 (42 in a row). Simply stated, Brasil are so legendary that against some lesser teams they have already won, or are already 1-0 up, before the game starts because of intimidation & awe of the myth of Brasil, and now that is gone, and as good as Holland are, their weakness will be even weaker in the semifinal, and the Ghana-Uruguay winner will go into the semifinal with confidence & belief that they can win their way through to the final rather than caution and inner timidity at the prospect of having to beat mighty Brasil.
Man Of The Match
Finally, from here on out someone is going to have to seriously step it up to challenge Wesley Sneijder for player of the tournament. He now has 4 goals in 5 games, and is clearly the front runner for the ballon d'or.