- Martin Rogers at Yahoo Sports2 hrs ago
RIO DE JANEIRO – Javier Mascherano will find out Thursday if he has been cleared to play for Argentina in Sunday's World Cup final against Germany following a sickening clash of heads during Wednesday's semifinal victory over the Netherlands.
Mascherano collided with Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and slumped to the ground in the first half Wednesday. Video replays sparked speculation that he had suffered a concussion given his dazed reaction after stumbling over while clutching his forehead.
After only a cursory exam on the pitch and a couple of minutes' rest, Mascherano returned to the pitch at Arena de Sao Paulo and completed the remainder of the 120 minutes. He was outstanding for the rest of the game as Argentina went on to win 4-2 on penalty kicks, and he may have saved the Argentines with a brilliant block to deny Arjen Robben in the final moments of regulation time.
Mascherano was examined by the team doctor after the match and was due to be attended to again on Thursday.
- Martin Rogers at Yahoo Sports18 hrs ago
SAO PAULO – Furious Netherlands head coach Louis Van Gaal blasted FIFA for its refusal to scrap the World Cup's third-place consolation game and insisted the controversial playoff should be consigned to history.
Van Gaal's Dutch side will be forced to play host nation Brazil in Brasilia on Saturday after losing its semifinal to Argentina in a heart-stopping penalty shootout at Arena de Sao Paulo on Wednesday night.
The coach, who takes over English Premier League team Manchester United at the end of the tournament, claimed he has urged soccer's hierarchy to abandon the game for more than a decade, to no avail.
- Martin Rogers at Yahoo Sports18 hrs ago
SAO PAULO – Sometimes a game is bad because the teams are bad. Sometimes it is bad because the teams are usually good, but they just play bad. And sometimes it's bad because they're too good.
The latter is pretty much what happened on Wednesday, as the World Cup semifinal between Argentina and the Netherlands, the co-second most important game on the planet for the next four years, turned into a snoozefest.
Argentina clinched a spot in Sunday's final and was mightily grateful for it, but it didn't power its way over the line. Instead, it backed in at a snail's pace after winning 4-2 on penalty kicks after a 0-0 tie following extra time. The Argentines will play for the world title against Germany having scored two goals in 5½ hours of play during the knockout phase.
- Martin Rogers at Yahoo Sports19 hrs ago
SAO PAULO – Four minutes of intense drama followed 120 minutes of stalemate on Wednesday, as Argentina booked its place in the World Cup final after surviving a thrilling penalty shootout against the Netherlands.
With the score locked at 0-0 after extra time, Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero was the hero, saving kicks from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder to take his country into the final for the first time since 1990.
Maxi Rodriguez converted the fourth and ultimately decisive penalty for Argentina and the Netherlands fell short again, having also lost on spot kicks in the 1998 semifinal while finishing as runners-up on three occasions.
SAO PAULO – Germany star Toni Kroos will follow up his World Cup destruction of Brazil by completing a blockbuster transfer to Spanish giant Real Madrid.
According to Spanish newspaper Marca and an independent source, Madrid is already planning a ceremony to unveil the 24-year-old midfielder, who was man of the match after scoring twice against Brazil on Tuesday, in a deal worth around $42 million.
The arrangement with his current club Bayern Munich was arranged before the 7-1 thumping and Kroos' incredible display, so the transfer price and his estimated wages of $16 million per season will be unchanged.
[Related: Brazil-Germany match sets new Twitter record]
SAO PAULO – Brazil’s stunning 7-1 defeat to Germany in Tuesday’s semifinal means the United States no longer holds an old, obscure, but definitely unwanted World Cup record.
Amid all the carnage in Belo Horizonte, all the tears and recriminations from a stunned host nation, was a bare statistical reality. Never before had a team lost a World Cup semifinal by such a resounding margin.
A six-goal deficit – it would have been seven if not for Oscar’s late consolation strike – is a mark that had never been matched and may never be bettered.
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil – Germany dealt Brazil a crushing 7-1 defeat in the World Cup semifinals on Tuesday – then felt bad about it.
After the game, countless German players made their way to Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari to offer their condolences for a host nation's dream that they had just killed. Bastian Schweinsteiger put an arm on Scolari's shoulder and shook his head. It looked like he was saying sorry although there were no words that could make any Brazilian feel better.
At least four Germans headed to Brazil defender Dante, who plays his club soccer with Bayern Munich in Germany, to offer hugs and kind gestures. Estadio Mineirao had the atmosphere of a funeral and the victors knew better than to gloat.
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil – Luiz Felipe Scolari apologized to the entire nation of Brazil and accepted the blame for his team's crushing 7-1 defeat to Germany in the World Cup semifinals.
Scolari admitted Tuesday was the darkest experience of his career after the remarkable contest at Estadio Mineirao left the host country heartbroken as its dream of clinching the World Cup for the sixth time was destroyed in clinical fashion.
"If I was to think of my life as a football player, coach and teacher, I think it was the worst day of my life," Scolari said. "I am going to be remembered probably because I lost 7-1 for Brazil but I knew that was a risk when I took this position.
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil – If you saw the game on television, no, you didn't imagine it. If you didn't watch it but heard about it, the rumors are true.
Brazil really did concede five goals in the first half hour of its World Cup semifinal against Germany. It really did get dumped out of the tournament 7-1. The dream really did end in little more than a heartbeat because of a devastating burst of brilliant attacking and utterly inept defending to form the most extraordinary outcome of all.
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil – Germany produced a stunning and spectacular destruction of host nation Brazil on Tuesday, racking up an extraordinary 7-1 victory in the first World Cup 2014 semifinal.
A sensational attacking burst, combined with some miserable Brazil defending, put the European side into a 5-0 lead within the first 30 minutes and drained every shred of hope from the home fans and their shell-shocked team.
"We delivered a marvelous performance against the host," said Germany midfielder Toni Kroos, who was voted Man of the Match. "If somebody had said before that we were going to win 7-1, I wouldn't have believed it."
"The Germans were better. They were better prepared," defender David Luiz said with tears in his eyes. "This is a very sad day."
Even without its main star Neymar, Brazil was widely considered to be an even match for the Germans heading into the game. How wrong that was.