Featured Matches
Previous
Valencia
Malaga
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Augsburg
Borussia Dortmund
0
0
LIVE 5'
Game Details
Marseille
Nice
0
0
LIVE 5'
Game Details
Sporting Kansas City
Houston Dynamo
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Getafe
Almeria
1
0
LIVE 34'
Game Details
Getafe
Almeria
1
0
LIVE 34'
Game Details
Valencia
Malaga
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Augsburg
Borussia Dortmund
0
0
LIVE 5'
Game Details
Marseille
Nice
0
0
LIVE 5'
Game Details
Perugia
Bologna
0
0
LIVE 0'
Game Details
FC Union Berlin
Nurnberg
0
4
FT
Game Details
FSV Frankfurt
RB Leipzig
0
0
FT
Game Details
VfR Aalen
Kaiserslautern
2
2
FT
Game Details
AJ Auxerre
Valenciennes
0
1
LIVE 13'
Game Details
Ajaccio GFCO
Troyes
0
3
LIVE 36'
Game Details
Chateauroux
Orléans
0
0
LIVE 0'
Game Details
Le Havre AC
Créteil
0
0
LIVE 0'
Game Details
Nimes
Arles
1
1
LIVE 25'
Game Details
Niort
Clermont Foot
0
0
LIVE 0'
Game Details
Sochaux
Dijon FCO
0
0
LIVE 0'
Game Details
Stade Laval
AC Ajaccio
0
0
LIVE 0'
Game Details
Go Ahead Eagles
Willem II Tilburg
0
0
LIVE 35'
Game Details
Achilles '29
Fortuna Sittard
0
1
LIVE 26'
Game Details
FC Den Bosch
Jong Ajax
1
0
LIVE 22'
Game Details
Helmond Sport
NEC Nijmegen
1
2
LIVE 25'
Game Details
Jong PSV
FC Eindhoven
1
1
LIVE 32'
Game Details
RKC Waalwijk
Jong FC Twente
0
2
LIVE 33'
Game Details
SC Stormvogels Telstar
Almere City
0
0
LIVE 0'
Game Details
Sparta Rotterdam
FC Volendam
0
2
LIVE 35'
Game Details
VVV Venlo
FC Emmen VV
1
1
LIVE 32'
Game Details
Academica de Coimbra
Vitoria Setubal
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Ural Sverdlovsk Oblast
Terek Grozny
0
1
FT
Game Details
Balikesirspor
Akhisar Belediye
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Caykur Rizespor
Genclerbirligi
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
KAA Gent
KV Kortrijk
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Helsingborg
Halmstad
1
3
LIVE 78'
Game Details
Orebro SK
Brommapojkarna
2
1
LIVE 78'
Game Details
Athlone Town FC
Cork
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Bray
UCD
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Derry City
St Patricks
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Dundalk
Bohemians
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Limerick FC
Drogheda Utd
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Shamrock
Sligo
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Glenavon
Ballymena
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Coleraine
Portadown
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Sporting Kansas City
Houston Dynamo
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Queretaro
Monterrey
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Tijuana
U. de G.
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Aberystwyth
Bangor City
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Carmarthen
Port Talbot
0
0
LIVE 0'
Game Details
Newi Cefn Druids
Connah's Quay
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Airbus UK
Newtown
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
T.N.S.
Rhyl
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Unión de Santa Fe
Crucero del Norte
7:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Huracán
Patronato
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Instituto de Córdoba
Ferro Carril Oeste
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Independiente Rivadavia
Atlético Tucumán
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Temperley
Sp. Belgrano
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Gimnasia y Esgrima de Jujuy
San Martín de San Juan
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Atlante
At. San Luis
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Coras Tepic
Lobos BUAP
1:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Joinville
Oeste
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Sampaio Correa-MA
América Mineiro
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Santa Cruz FC
Goianiense
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Arica
Palestino
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
12 de Octubre
Nacional
Postp
Game Details
Bidvest Wits
Moroka Swallows
1
0
LIVE 36'
Game Details
Chippa United
Ajax Cape Town
0
0
LIVE 10'
Game Details
Next

Marcotti: A tournament to remember

World Cup Jul 14, 2014
Read
 Posted by Gabriele Marcotti
Jul 6, 2014

Previewing the World Cup semifinals

The ESPN FC crew recaps all the action from Saturday's quarterfinals and looks ahead to the World Cup semifinal matchups.

A World Cup that has provided so many surprises and veered so delightfully off script began its regression to the mean at the quarterfinal stage. Four games, no upsets and, perhaps tellingly, just five goals in total.

Was it a reminder that when the stakes get this high -- for all the intent and best will in the world -- bolts start tightening and fear of failure sets in? Probably. And it wasn't just the lack of goals as much as the fact that two of the four games -- Argentina vs. Belgium and Germany vs. France -- simply weren't that good regardless of whether your chosen metric is entertainment or performance.

A sign of things to come for the semifinals?

One would hope not, because on paper, Argentina vs. Netherlands and Germany vs. Brazil offer up arguably the most pedigreed lineup of semifinalists ever assembled. Among them, these four nations have won 10 of the 19 World Cups and supplied 21 of the 38 finalists (40, if you want to be pedantic and count all four teams in the final group stage as finalists).

These nations have written recent World Cup history. In the past 40 years, Germany have reached the final five times; Argentina, Brazil and the Netherlands three each.

You wanted big names with history and tradition to boot? You got them.

Brazil and Germany will meet for the second time in a competitive game. Their first? The 2002 World Cup final.
Brazil and Germany will meet for the second time in a competitive game. Their first? The 2002 World Cup final.

You get a replay of the 2002 final between Germany and Brazil, the only time that these two sides -- the two most successful nations in World Cup history -- have faced off in a competitive game. And you get Argentina vs. Netherlands, a clash that harkens back to 1978, a very different World Cup, one played under the watchful eye of a military dictatorship and the last hurrah of Total Football.

What you also get is an interesting contrast. Three nations (largely) carried by a superstar: Neymar for Brazil, Arjen Robben for the Netherlands and Lionel Messi for Argentina. And one, Germany, which -- playing to stereotype a little bit -- has been far more about the collective.

The twist, of course, is that Brazil's superstar is gone and with him, at least for the semifinal, their captain and defensive stalwart, Thiago Silva. How Luiz Felipe Scolari copes may be the biggest test of his managerial career thus far. This means he'll be tested in terms of personnel and tactics in the way his three other semifinal colleagues already have been. Alejandro Sabella had to rejigger his team to find the right balance for Messi, Joachim Low ditched possession football to overcome France and Louis van Gaal has been juggling schemes and individuals to paper over the many cracks in his Dutch squad.

Louis van Gaal's trickery worked against Costa Rica. What will he scheme in order to stop Lionel Messi and Argentina?
Louis van Gaal's trickery worked against Costa Rica. What will he scheme in order to stop Lionel Messi and Argentina?

The other common thread, peculiar to this World Cup, is that we haven't had an outstanding team. These four have played well only intermittently. They may have won 14 of 20 games in the 90 minutes, but that total includes injury-time winners (Netherlands vs. Mexico, Argentina vs. Iran). Indeed, the only truly dominant performances and gaudy scorelines -- yes, it's subjective -- were Germany vs. Portugal (Low's crew played against 10 men for 53 minutes), Brazil vs. Cameroon (the African team were already eliminated) and Netherlands vs. Spain (though for the first 40 minutes, the defending world champions looked in control and found themselves ahead).

It's not a knock on the semifinalists at all. If anything, it underscores how level the playing field has been in this tournament and how the difference between victory and defeat is often down to mental toughness and superstars delivering brilliance. These four teams have both.

Here's a breakdown on how things might pan out.

Germany vs. Brazil, Belo Horizonte, Tuesday (4 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN)

Do we get the "new" possession-oriented Germany of the first four games or the quarterfinal version, which is actually the old Germany, with a more muscular midfield and a more direct style? That's one of the big questions Low must resolve. Across the way, Scolari has even more on his plate. Without Neymar, do you keep the 4-2-3-1 and have someone else try to impersonate the resident superstar or do you batten down the hatches, go with three workmanlike midfielders (Paulinho, Fernandinho and the returning Luiz Gustavo) and hope for the best?

Germany's high line should encounter fewer issues against a more cautious Brazil and you sense that Scolari is more comfortable with a blue-collar approach, anyway. If that happens, the game will likely be won or lost in the middle of the park.

Argentina vs. Netherlands, Wednesday (4 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN)

Van Gaal has used just about every formation and approach in the book to squeeze every drop of potential out of a thin, unbalanced squad. Short of using Tim Krul as a target man, you don't know what more he's going to pull out of the hat. The extra bodies at the back will need to contain Messi, while at the other end, he'll have a big call to make with Robin van Persie, who has contributed something close to nothing in the past two outings. Robben has yet to come up for air; if his breathless performances continue, it could be a long day for the Argentine defense.

On the other hand, Argentina are growing, especially the much-maligned back four and Javier Mascherano in midfield. The loss of Angel Di Maria and his ability to play Tonto to Messi's Lone Ranger will hurt, but now that Gonzalo Higuain is showing signs of life, at least there is a scoring alternative to you-know-who. The hope is that Messi isn't treated by the Dutch defense the way James Rodriguez was handled by the Brazilian midfield (and conversely, that Robben isn't hacked by the Argentine back line).

Gabriele Marcotti

A London-based journalist and broadcaster who covers world soccer, he is the author of three books, the world soccer columnist for The Times of London and a correspondent for the Italian daily Corriere dello Sport. You can catch him on ESPN FC TV and read him here twice a week.