Netherlands. Argentina. Brazil. Germany.
These four juggernauts, who’ve reached 21 World Cup finals between them and won 10 of the 19 previous titles, make up the semifinal field in Brazil. Even without the injured Neymar in the fold, this has all the makings to be one of the greatest “final fours” in World Cup history.
Oh, and we’ve got an absolute cracker of a final promised for next Sunday.
Looking ahead, whatever happens, Maracana Final will be historic. Bra/Arg 1st time; Bra/Neth 1st time; Ger/Arg 86/90 (West); Ger/Neth 74— Craig Foster (@Craig_Foster)July 5, 2014
Getting excited? Us too.
So, how did we get here? Skim through Saturday’s top storylines in our latest World Cup social media roundup:
First up on Saturday was Lionel Messi and the Albiceleste taking on Belgium, a rematch of the 1986 semifinals. All tournament long it’s been Messi who carried his side from win to win (his back must be killing him!), but on this day he got a little help from his friend Gonzalo Higuain:
Wonderfully Instinctive finish from Higuain. Glad he’s finally decided to take part in this World Cup.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker)July 5, 2014
— Ray Hudson (@RayHudson)July 5, 2014
Belgium defenders were making the sign of the cross on their chests when #Messi picked up the ball….GENIUS again from La Pulga MAGIC PIPITA!— Ray Hudson (@RayHudson)July 5, 2014
That’s how you do it Wondo— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers)July 5, 2014
Too soon, Men in Blazers, too soon…
After Argentina’s narrow win, it was time for a goalkeeper duel (sorry, truel) between the Netherlands and Costa Rica. Actually, it was mostly just 120 minutes of Keylor Navas making save after save, rescuing the Ticos to their second straight penalty shootout …
I’ve been told by my Costa Rican friends that Keylor Navas is pronounced Tim Howard in Costa Rica.— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch)July 5, 2014
Navas IS Costa Rica. Incredible. #CRC— KICKTV (@KICKTV)July 5, 2014
I cannot remember a tournament with more thrilling goalkeeping than this World Cup.— Brian Phillips (@runofplay)July 5, 2014
Keylor Navas must have made a pact with the devil. There is no other explanation!— MisterChip (English) (@MisterChiping)July 5, 2014
I wish I was as good at something as CONCACAF keepers are at their jobs— Jorge Arangure (@jorgearangure)July 5, 2014
Keylor Navas’ price-tag would’ve rocketed this WC if it wasnt for him having €10m clause in his contract.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan)July 5, 2014
… at which point Dutch manager Louis van Gaal pulled out a brilliant move, taking off starting goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, who made a huge save late in extra time, for backup Tim Krul, who’s had more success stopping penalties than the former. As we all know, the switch paid off in spades:
— 8bit-Football.com (@8bitfootball)July 5, 2014
Krul customer— Rob Stone (@RobStoneONFOX)July 5, 2014
Tim Krul will be the new Penalty Kick Department Head at the Howard-Ochoa-Navas Goalkeeping Academy.— Andrew Das (@AndrewDasNYT)July 5, 2014
Can’t believe some journalists slating Krul for his antics. Mind-game worked brilliantly. Van Gaal looks genius now.— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy)July 5, 2014
This World Cup may have come a bit too soon for Belgium’s golden generation, but you just wonder what might have been had key man Eden Hazard played on Saturday.
What’s that? Hazard did play against Argentina?! Get out of town!
No matter how you slice it, the Chelsea star and reigning Premier League Young Player of the Year simply didn’t show up against the Albiceleste. In fact, Hazard barely showed any flashes of brilliance in Brazil that he’s become known for at club level. For that, he got a good hiding on Twitter:
Eden Hazard. Bust at the World Cup. #BEL— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy)July 5, 2014
Chadli for Hazard just about sums up Hazard’s World Cup. #BEL— Kyle McCarthy (@kylejmccarthy)July 5, 2014
Hazard off, Chadli on. That’s got to hurt.— Tom Williams (@tomwfootball)July 5, 2014
Belgium very poor. Hazard had a nightmare the whole WC. Does Messi carry an injury?— Didi Hamann (@DietmarHamann)July 5, 2014
Hazard’s World Cup [insert thumbs down].— Nutmeg Radio (@NutmegRadio)July 5, 2014
Farewell Belgium. “Dark Horse” who will not be put out to Stud— roger bennett (@rogbennett)July 5, 2014
It’s obviously unfair to blame Belgium’s disappointing end to the World Cup on just one guy, and this team will almost certainly make much more noise at the next few tournaments. Still, they will need their best player to step his game up in order to do so.
We couldn’t come up with anything that really stood out as “ugly” on Saturday, so we’ll just leave you with this haunting image of Rodrigo Palacio’s haircut:
i feel this irrepressible desire to RIP palacios’ rattail off with my bare hands like. i feel like it’d be so satisfying— Fantine Griezmann (@willshadespeare)July 5, 2014