German glee

German glee

REPORTING FROM RIO DE JANEIRO

SEMI-FINAL

HOLLAND 0 ARGENTINA 0

Argentina win 4-2 on penalties

That sound you can hear is the collective crack of German sides splitting everywhere.

Joachim Loew's merry men are laughing all the way to the World Cup trophy.

The Rio Carnival is usually held during Lent, but the procession might come to the Maracana on Monday morning (Singapore time).

An exhilarating spectacle promises to be an exhibition if yesterday's drivel in the Sao Paulo drizzle is any indication.

Holland and Argentina didn't drown in the rain, they were comatose before kick-off.

A carbon copy of Germany's Belo Horizonte classic was never anticipated, but the second semi-final was a facsimile of the worst farces this otherwise exceptional tournament has offered.

The boring Iran v Nigeria and Belgium v Russia matches were a veritable Mardi Gras compared to this abject, ponderous plod of a performance.

If this doesn't win the award for worst semi-final in World Cup history, then its victorious predecessor should be replayed as an instrument of mental torture during intense police interrogations.

Argentina's creative options were limited; their Fantastic Four being reduced to a Dithering Duo after Angel di Maria and Sergio Aguero were not fit enough to start.

Holland's camp were clearly suffering the after-effects of Robin van Persie's debilitating virus. That should be their excuse anyway.

They played in a daze, stumbling though a two-hour zombie movie audition as if being drenched by acid rain.

Their collective lethargy even extended to the line-ups.

Luca Biglia's introduction alongside Javier Mascherano starved Argentina of attacking impetus; their creative cause not helped by Gonzalo Higuain and Ezequiel Lavezzi's decision to play hide-and-seek with each other on the left side of the pitch without telling their teammates.

La Albiceleste needed a private detective to find them.

Lionel Messi was no less passive, once again struggling to shake off that asterisk that stubbornly clings to his resume.

Such tepid contests were once made for Argentina's finest little terrier to step in and conquer.

Diego Maradona's spectre weighed heavily on Messi's shoulders.

But Arjen Robben was equally inept. Sao Paulo offered a cool, pleasing temperature for the game's leading superstars to shine, but they wobbled in the windy conditions.

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