Logic

“There is no logic in sports.” My colleague texted me that after the Holland-Brazil match concluded. I had picked the Dutch to win this match (and the tournament), but I understand what he’s talking about. After a blistering opening 25 minutes by the Brazilians and the Dutch looking completely out of sorts, it looked like the Dunga Machine was going to roll to the semifinal.

– However, in the second half, Holland made a no-brainer tactical shift. They seemingly disregarded the side of Brazil that had Lucio, Gilberto Silva, and Maicon in defense and started to exclusively attack down the right channel against Juan, Felipe Melo, and Michel Bastos. Bastos put in several fouls on Robben and could have been sent off with two yellow cards (additionally, how Van Bommel failed to get a yellow card, I’ll never know), and Felipe Melo was sent off for an incredibly stupid stamp on Robben.

– The goal that put the Dutch ahead was scored by Sneijder, the smallest man on the pitch, and a real contender for FIFA World Player of the Year in my eyes.

– Brazil was also apparently undefeated in their blue kit at the World Cup since 1974. The team they lost to in that tournament? Holland.

– The reversal in the first match was unexpected and provided a lot of drama. The second match produced even more drama.

– I’m in a World Cup betting pool with friends. One of my friends was dwelling near the bottom, so he decided to take a calculated risk and picked the Netherlands and Ghana. Were both upsets to happen, he would have climbed back into contention. The Ghana-Uruguay match ended up being a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

– In regulation time, two goals were conceded, both by goalkeeping gaffes. Ghana’s goal provided by Muntari, and Forlan dipping a free kick past Kingson.

– Truthfully speaking, it wasn’t much of a spectacle and looked to be headed to penalties. Just at that moment, everything kicked off.

– First, Ghana won a soft free kick. They whipped it into the box and chaos inside. Luis Suarez blocked a shot off the line, then a rebound fell to Adiyiah, he shot, and Suarez cleared it off the line with his hand. Red card, penalty, Suarez off in tears, Ghana with an opportunity to be the first African team in the World Cup semifinals. Gyan’s attempt bounces off the crossbar. Off to penalties.

– I’ve heard people calling Suarez a cheat for what he did. I defy anybody to admit that they wouldn’t have done the same thing Suarez did. On the replay, you could see Fucile attempt to block it with his hands as well. Suarez was caught and punished for the transgression. The shot came at such pace that it could have been an instinctual reaction. He will now miss the biggest match of his life. He did what he had to do. To vilify him seems like a British thing to do. Is the person committing a professional foul a cheat? I don’t think so. There are last gasp measures and severe penalties for it.

– So on we went to penalties.

– Forlan cooly slotted his in. Gyan, showing off a huge pair of balls, kicked a sweet penalty that was not savable.

– Victorino, a Uruguayan defender, stepped up and scored. Appiah, Ghana’s shining star, kicked it in as well.

– Scotti, another defender, just about scored. At this point, I remarked to my roommate that I would avoid using central defenders from kicking penalties because they have a tendency to overhit the ball. Mensah took a starting position to do a two step run up, something that prevents a player from generating more power for the shot (Zidane used to do it as well, but he’s Zizou). He timidly kicked the ball and Muslera easily saved.

– Incredibly enough, the next Uruguayan player, Pereira skied a kick. Dominic Adiyiah, Ghana’s brightest hope for the future, shot tamely and was saved.

– Finally, Abreu scored a cheeky free kick. Uruguay goes insane, Suarez celebrates with the team, Gyan looks suicidal, and the most dramatic finish to the World Cup thus far concludes.

– For my friend who was betting on the match, it literally went from high to low to even higher to even lower to some hope to the elimination of that hope. For Ghana, a team that was one kick away from a glorious moment feels the way Gyan does.

– This is the reason why we watch sports.

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