Armchair Pundit

World Cup cheat sheet: Day 24

Alex Chick

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After yesterday's mauling in Cape Town, Argentina join England in the enclosure marked: Thrashed by Germany.

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Germany 4-0 Argentina - Cape Town

Who saw that one coming? An awesome team display saw Germany nullify Argentina's huge attacking threat, while tearing them apart repeatedly. Argentina's defending might make England feel better about themselves, but there is no doubt Joachim Loew's side stepped up another gear from their last-16 demolition. Thomas Mueller gave Germany an early lead, taking advantage of suspect marking and poor goalkeeping by Sergio Romero to glance in a Bastian Schweinsteiger free-kick. Miroslav Klose added a second midway through the second half, tapping in from close range from a Lukas Podolski centre. Arne Friedrich then scored his first international goal, converting after a mesmerising run inside from the left by Schweinsteiger. And Klose added a fourth late on, volleying in Mesut Ozil's pinpoint cross. Klose, who was making his 100th international appearance, now has 14 World Cup goals - level with Gerd Mueller and one short of the record held by Ronaldo. Diego Maradona's side slink home after a quiet display from Lionel Messi, while Germany roar on to the last four. Look out Spain.

Spain 1-0 Paraguay - Johannesburg

David Villa's fifth goal of the tournament settled a match that was initially cagey then wildly dramatic. After a dull first half. Paraguay were handed a golden opportunity to go in front when Gerard Pique idiotically wrestled Oscar Cardozo to the ground inside the box - the Spanish defender was lucky to stay on the pitch. Cardozo, who netted the winning penalty against Japan, stepped up and saw Iker Casillas save his effort. A minute later there was a  spot-kick at the other end as Villa was taken down from behind. Xabi Alonso converted the penalty only for referee Carlos Batres to order a retake because of encroachment. Alonso saw his re-take saved, and Spain were immediately denied another penalty after Justo Villar upended Cesc Fabregas. Villa struck in the 83rd minute after a sensational Andres Iniesta run set up Pedro whose shot came back off the post. Villa picked up the rebound and sent in a shot that hit the right-hand post, then the left, then finally went in - he has scored in four straight games. Spain were some way below their fluent best and Fernando Torres was again taken off early after another subpar performance.

Semi-finals:

Netherlands v Paraguay - Cape Town - Tuesday 6 July - 19.30

Germany v Spain - Durban - Wednesday 7 July - 19.30

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Water cooler chat: Adios Diego

Just when we were starting to like Maradona, he is out of the tournament. Standing on the touchline in a suit, he was memorably described as looking like an ewok at a film premiere, but his unique brand of gesticulation and man-hugs put the rather sober Fabio Capello to shame.

After a shambolic qualifying campaign, Maradona realised just in time he wasn't much cop at this coaching malarkey, and decided to trust the players to get on with it. Some spectacular victories seemed to vindicate this approach, but Argentina were well and truly undone by the first top-class side they faced. They even did worse than England.

And now it looks like he is about to jack in the job. We'll miss him. The psychotic energy, the crazily unguarded press conferences and the boyish enthusiasm for absolutely everything were a joy. Even when he wasn't playing, Maradona still managed to steal the show.

What to say: 'Hand of God, mouth of potty, suit of Matalan.'

What not to say: 'At least we can stop worrying about that massive heart attack.'

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World Cup jargon: Encroachment

Why can't anyone score a penalty any more? This World Cup has not been kind to penalty-takers. We know this because a German - Lukas Podolski - missed one earlier in the tournament. But this weekend has been particularly bizarre, with none of three penalties taken during normal play being scored.

Well, that's not strictly true. Xabi Alonso did find the net against Paraguay but was forced to take it again when the referee spotted encroachment by Spanish players. Basically, nobody except the taker and the goalkeeper are allowed to be inside the penalty area or the 'D' when the kick is taken. Except players break this rule on virtually every penalty ever taken. So, well done Senor Batres for making a stand.

The problem is on the re-take, which was saved by Justo Villar, there was just as much encroachment. And there was even more of the stuff a minute earlier, when the normally reliable Oscar Cardozo failed to convert at the other end. So Batres scores only one out of three on the jobsworth scale.

Also on a weekend of penalty woe, Asamoah Gyan blazed over with the last kick of extra time as Ghana went out to Paraguay. On penalties, of course. And people say English football is going out of fashion...

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More Armchair Pundit: Europe 3, South America 0. And just why are Germany so good?

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