[GERMANY-ARGENTINA] This World Cup's most exciting team reassured us that attacking soccer pays off. The Germans scored 158 seconds after kickoff, never stopped going forward, and routed Argentina 4-0 in Cape Town to advance to the semifinals.
What we liked …
-- Germany reached the World Cup semifinals for a record 12th time and for the second straight World Cup downed Argentina in the quarterfinals. On home soil in 2006, the Germans needed a penalty-kick tiebreaker. In South Africa, the Germans scored early when Bastian Schweinsteiger’s free kick was nodded home with a glancing header by Thomas Mueller. That left Coach Diego Maradona’s team 87 minutes to recover, yet the Germans never let up, flying down the flanks with precise passing to set up easy finishes for Miroslav Klose (twice) and defender Arne Friedrich, who had never scored for his country in nearly 80 appearances.
-- Mueller, who scored twice against England in the round of 16, helped set up Germany’s second goal against Argentina. While on the ground, Mueller delivered a pass to Lukas Podolski, who sent a low ball through the area that found Klose in front of a wide open net.
-- Schweinsteiger is supposed to be a defensive midfielder, but he orchestrated Germany’s swift forays and he juked his way through the Argentine penalty area, evading three defenders, to set up Friedrich’s tap-in to make it 3-0 in the 74th minute. Mesut Ozil, who plays behind strikers Podolski and Klose, assured the Germans kept position deep in Argentine territory and delivered the perfectly weighted cross that Klose side-footed past keeper Sergio Romero in the 89th minute to make it 4-0.
-- For the third time this tournament, after a 4-0 win against Australia and a 4-1 victory over England, Germany scored four goals in a game. Its back-to-back four-goal games marked the first time a team scored as many as four goals in both the round of 16 and quarterfinals.
-- Klose’s two goals upped his total at this tournament to four and he is now tied with German Gerd Mueller with 14 goals on the all-time World Cup leading scorer list. Klose, who earned his 100th cap against Argentina, has two games to match or break Ronaldo’s record of 15.
What we didn’t like …
-- Lionel Messi, coming off a season in which he scored 34 goals in Spain’s La Liga and eight in the Champions League for Barcelona, went scoreless for his country in five games at the World Cup. (German forwards Podolski and Klose have each scored more goals at this World Cup than they did with their clubs in league play all last season.)
-- The Albiceleste peppered the German goal with shots, especially early in the second half, and managed 20 shots to Germany's 18. But the Argentine efforts were either wide, high or easily handled by Germany's 24-year-old goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
-- In a dubious decision, referee Ravshan Irmatov yellow-carded Mueller for a handball. Having been cautioned against England, Mueller will be suspended for the semifinal.
-- The loss marked Argentina’s second worst defeat in World Cup history after a 6-1 defeat by Czechoslovakia in the 1958 World Cup.