Loss for Messi and Argentina among biggest World Cup upsets
LAS VEGAS — They’re going to be a long time in the history books for this Argentina group. After winning a quarterfinal against an injury-plagued Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup quarterfinals, they were supposed to have a near-perfect World Cup run. The goalkeeping of Manuel Neuer had won back the hearts and minds of much of the world after his heroics in the 2006 World Cup final. His counterpart, World Cup veteran Tim Krul, kept the ball clean and was the main reason Germany was playing so well in the group stage.
With a little more than 10 minutes to go in Wednesday’s semifinal against Belgium, Argentina was staring down a run-in against Germany, a team that had been ranked fourth in the FIFA World Rankings, ahead of Brazil and England as well as Germany. Argentina had only gone 7-0-2 against Brazil and 5-0 against England at World Cups.
Just like then, the players and the team were in the middle of a crisis of their own making.
“It was the worst crisis I’ve ever been a part of,” veteran striker Javier Mascherano told reporters Friday. “And it has cost us the World Cup.”
Argentina has been knocked out Wednesday’s semifinal, a result that would mark the final first-round result in the 20 World Cup tournaments ever played. It’s the nation’s third loss in the semifinals, the least of any World Cup quarterfinalist, and Argentina has lost 10 of its last 21 World Cup matches. And while Argentina does not have the same kind of national pride as Mexico or the United States, those would-be conquerors have had at least two chances to overcome the tournament-ending loss to Germany.
In what was the most lopsided semifinal in history, the final ended up coming down to a goal in the 90th minute by the nation’s all-time leading goal scorer, Messi.
“The way the game turned out, we lost and we’re disappointed,” Argentina’s coach Alejandro Sabella said. “So we’ll learn from this. We’ll see what we can do to try to improve and prepare our team for the next round.”