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Argentina win shootout after first ever scoreless World Cup semifinal

Dirty Tackle

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Simply put, the World Cup semifinal between the Netherlands and Argentina was terrible.

The 120 minutes of scoreless muck in which both teams were wholly consumed by the desire to not concede a goal, completely forgetting the concept of mounting an attack, would best be described with a blank page. The Netherlands' Ron Vlaar continued the futility by having his shot to the begin the penalty shootout saved. Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero went on to save Wesley Sneijder's attempt as well, helping his side to a 4-2 shootout win. Romero was named Man of the Match not for his two important saves, but because he finally ended the match and allowed everyone to move on with their lives.

This was the first World Cup semifinal ever to end scoreless before going to penalties. And now Argentina will face Germany in the final having scored eight goals in the entire tournament (half by Lionel Messi) — one more than Germany scored in their semifinal against Brazil.

This will be the third time Argentina and Germany play each other in a World Cup final. They previously beat West Germany 3-2 in the 1986 final in Mexico and then lost 1-0 to them at Italia '90.

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De Jong marks Messi's right side and Vlaar marks his left side. (Photo by Fabrizio Bensch - Pool/Getty Images)

De Jong marks Messi's right side and Vlaar marks his left side. (Photo by Fabrizio Bensch - Pool/Getty Images)

Lionel Messi, who was given no space to operate by the Dutch, might never get a better chance to win a World Cup than this, but the final step will be very difficult. The Germans will have an extra day's rest and played 30 minutes less in their semifinal than Argentina did. But Argentina have not allowed a goal in any of their three knockout-stage matches. In a World Cup without any truly great teams, it now comes down to the two with the most useful mix of talent and discipline.

But before that, Brazil will face the Netherlands in a third-place match that, given the host nation's current emotional state, might be the saddest third-place place of all time. And that's saying something.

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