Good evening, sports fans! I guess the first quiestion that I have to ask is this: have you recovered from last night? I certainly haven’t, and will return to the subject once last time in order to briefly mention that we will most likely remember where we were yesterday evening for the rest of our lives. The past, however, is the past and this evening is all about the immediate future again as the Netherlands play Argentina in the second of the semi-final matches at this summer’s World Cup finals. Having brilliantly predicted that last night’s match would be a tight one – for God’s sake don’t ever bet on the basis of anything that I say – I’m going to steer clear of saying anything that might cause me to look stupid in a few hours’ time. You can insert your own jokes here, of course.

The theme of this evening’s match might well turn out to be catharsis. It’s been twenty-four years since Argentina last reached a World Cup final and four years more than that since they last won it and, whilst Lionel Messi has been predictably outstanding so far, Argentina have occasionally seemed a little out of sorts so far. Still, getting to a World Cup final would a release for both Argentina and Messi, both of whom have flattered to deceive at recent tournaments, though they would, of course, have the consolation prize of a third/fourth place play-off match against a demoralised Brazil should they fail to get through this evening.

The Netherlands, meanwhile, have been here before. Runners-up in 1974, 1978 and 2010, the Dutch have made the final of the competition before but haven’t yet won it, and that might well be an itch that needs to be scratched. To add to this, there is the small matter of the identity of the opponents should they win this evening. The Netherlands and Germany is one of international football’s great grudge matches, from the 1974 World Cup final in Munich to the bitter match played in Milan in 1990 when Frank Rijkaard spat at Rudi Voller, and beyond. This would be a grudge match in the purest possible terms, and the Dutch team are surely desperate for it to happen again.

So, no predictions from me this evening, but you can join us just before 9pm (BST) this evening for the whole match, plus whatever else happens to pass through our tiny minds over the course of the evening. Should Ed Carter turn up, expect a spectacular eulogy to the Dutch food chain Febo. Meanwhile, sit back and enjoy some highlights from the 1978 World Cup final. If we come anywhere close to that excitement again, we won’t have had a bad evening at all.

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Mark July 10, 201412:01 am

Still, as Cannavaro says, Sabella is the genius coach now for the subs he brought on – two of whom scored in the shoot-out. Sorry, Sab-AYA. Sheffield United should be so proud.

Mark July 9, 201411:54 pm

O’Neill thinks the sides played for penalties, which suggests that either Cannavaro has too much power over O’Neill’s mind or that O’Neill just didn’t watch extra-time…

Mark July 9, 201411:53 pm

As a practising catholic, I KNOW there’s a church-based point to be made about the final line-up but I just can’t put my finger on it…

Mark July 9, 201411:50 pm

Only Germany can stop them now.

And after seeing that last penalty, the world now knows why Krul came on last Sunday.

I suspect Germany will have neutral English support for the first time since…oooh…pick any year, really. Especially when the tabloids reprint pics of that “Malvinas” banner Argentina displayed before a warm-up game.

Even the BBC’s un-nerving tendencies towards Messi love-ins might not overwhelm that.

Mark July 9, 201411:44 pm

Match point Argentina. Sub Maxi to serve. ACE. 4-2.

Mark July 9, 201411:43 pm

Aguero 3-1. On the verge here. Hard work for Kuyt, this next penalty…3-2/

Mark July 9, 201411:42 pm

Sneijder;s tournament…summed up in a kick. 2-1

Mark July 9, 201411:42 pm

Garay. Argentina’s Ron Vlaar: But not here. Cillessen doesn’t intimidate the Krul way. More like the kind way.

Mark July 9, 201411:41 pm

Robben 1-1. That WAS good.

Mark July 9, 201411:40 pm

The simple side-foot of a master.

Mark July 9, 201411:40 pm

Argentina’s no 10: 1-0

Mark July 9, 201411:39 pm

Still 0-0

Mark July 9, 201411:39 pm

Vlaar ooops

Mark July 9, 201411:35 pm

Apart from two of the game’s clearest chances. Mind you, in a game as “””””””intriguing””””””” as that, I sort of know what you mean.

Mark July 9, 201411:34 pm

I know. You’ve mentioned them. That’s where Argentina got their second wind from, I was suggesting.

Meanwhile, Cannavaro was right.

Tight shoot-out. Messi to miss. You read it here first…and possibly last…

Ian July 9, 201411:34 pm

That second half of extra time passed very quickly, didn’t it? I can barely remember a single thing that happened during it.

Ian July 9, 201411:32 pm

Febo, Mark. It’s a fabulous fast food place in the Netherlands. You get food out of little kiosks, and my God it’s delicious.

But I digress.

Mark July 9, 201411:30 pm

Maxi’s chance. “Didn’t really hit it with his laces, did he?” I think he might have done. The boot would surely have been the better option.

Mark July 9, 201411:28 pm

Why Palacio is sub.

“He just couldn’t get the ball down on the floor could he?” – Townsend. Well, no. It was above his head, you…yes…PLANK…

Mark July 9, 201411:26 pm


Ian July 9, 201411:22 pm

Weird, that first half of extra time. Netherlands were on top in the closing stages of the ninety and carried that into the first five minutes of extra time, but Argentina came on strong in the last ten minutes again. They found a second wind from somewhere.

Mark July 9, 201411:22 pm

Zabaletta going for “toilet paper in mouth” chic for the last 12. Must grate on the teeth…unless its replacing one

Mark July 9, 201411:19 pm

Cannavaro is convinced we’re off to penalties but its not for the want of trying by either side, is it? I’ve seen far worse extra-times.

Mark July 9, 201411:15 pm

Cillessen has either been crying, or needs a LOT of sleep when he gets home.

Mark July 9, 201411:13 pm

What was that shout I heard after Robben was fouled there? Ah yes…”wolf!!”

Mark July 9, 201411:11 pm

“Game is stretched” – Tyldesley. Its official.

Mark July 9, 201411:08 pm

Townsend seems to thinks Messi’s about to be called ashore. Really? Or is Townsend nuts? Ah…its the latter.
Lavezzi off though. Pity. He’s been really rather good.

Mark July 9, 201411:04 pm

Van Gaal not thinking of penalties. Clear thinking, given the last 15 minutes.

Mark July 9, 201411:01 pm

Huntelaar getting a shoulder massage…looks like he’s been prepared to take over in goal. Now THERE’S a tactical innovation…

Mark July 9, 201410:58 pm

“Its tense…and…its…its…anyone’s.” Perfect review by Martin O’Neill.

Mark July 9, 201410:57 pm

Football is nothing without spectators. This game has sounded more involving than, say, the 2006 semi between France and Portugal. But it hasn’t really been, has it?

Ted July 9, 201410:54 pm

He took one too many touches and then another one after that for luck. I’ve been up since 4.50 a.m. (I have a cat) and frankly this is not what I need.

Mark July 9, 201410:53 pm

0-0. And of course, if a Dutch player succumbs to extra-time injury, Cillessen’s on penalties. Now that IS intriguing…

Mark July 9, 201410:50 pm

Oooh, Robben ballsed that up. Still, great tackle by Mascherano.

Mark July 9, 201410:47 pm

Its getting stretched!!! 🙂

Mark July 9, 201410:40 pm

Ah. Sergio Aguero. The Premier League to the rescue.

Mark July 9, 201410:39 pm

This last ten minutes could be intriguing. Unfortunately.

Mark July 9, 201410:38 pm

“He’s playing like Ruud Krol.” Tyldesley on Vlaar. No…really.
And, hooray, someone’s told Townsend that refs’ assistants flag for goalkicks. In game 62 of 64.

Kev July 9, 201410:37 pm

The Dutch would be playing better if they’d filled up on these.

Mark July 9, 201410:35 pm

The masterstroke will be whoever comes off to bring Van Persie on…what?…was that him? Blimey.

Ted July 9, 201410:28 pm

looking forward to seeing what Van Gaal’s game-breaking tactical masterstroke this evening will be. Having a shot might be a good fucking start.

Mark July 9, 201410:23 pm

Biglia paying homage to Rensenbrink in 1978 (above) with that plastercast on his wrist.

Mark July 9, 201410:20 pm

A better centre-half, undoubtedly…

Ted July 9, 201410:17 pm

Is it possible that Ron Vlaar might be better than Lionel Messi?

Mark July 9, 201410:13 pm

You don’t know, do you?

Mark July 9, 201410:07 pm

And I KNOW refs are being lenient. But de Vrij has just committed a blatant bookable offence on ITV player. Was it a website exclusive???
And why is the Argentina coach Sab-AYA after 35 years in the English football fans’ consiciousness???

Mark July 9, 201410:05 pm

Martins Indi brought off before he gets sent off. Or “tactical genius by Manchester United manager Van Gaal, there.”

Mark July 9, 20149:59 pm

Someone has told the pundits NOT to say Holland but only Lee Dixon’s remembered.
At this rate, Bruno Martins Indi could be a World Cup winner. In terms of half-time team talks, that could be a good place for Sabella to start.
Does Febo do a diabetic menu?
And has Adrian Chiles REALLY just tried to suggest this is better than last night on the Beeb because both teams are still in the game? My bloody good grief…

Kev July 9, 20149:57 pm

I’d personally favour Kipcorn.

Ian July 9, 20149:54 pm

Really want a Febo chicken noodle croquette now.

Ted July 9, 20149:52 pm

I’ve got a feeling that Tim Krul’s getting a game tonight.

Mark July 9, 20149:51 pm

“Intriguing.” Never a great sign when a game draws that description. Ian Wright’s 3-2 to Holland prediction looks a touch distant – although 24 hours 50 minutes ago I said “2-1 either way,” so…
If its Messi v Robben, there’s little wonder its 0-0. More like Lavezzi v erm… Well, Dirk Kuyt’s worked hard. The Dutch must surely improve. Mustn’t they?

Ted July 9, 20149:50 pm

I always hate it when Adrian Chiles’ voice comes on at half time and assures us that what we have just seen was “fascinating”.

Because what it means is that it is 0-0 and the first 45 minute was a crock of shit.

Ian July 9, 20149:47 pm

I presume you mean the outside of a Febo chicken noodle croquette, rather than the inside because, as I recall, the inside of those were brown.

(Mark, if you’ve never eaten at Febo, you need to go to Amsterdam and do that)

Mark July 9, 20149:45 pm

The cameras have found Arthur Askey’s stunt double amongst the Oranje hordes again, although in THAT uniform and hat, its not a hard spot.

Ted July 9, 20149:42 pm

I always feel the Dutch kit should be a shade darker than a the yolk from a really good free range hen’s egg and a shade lighter than a Febo chicken noodle croquette.

God I am hungry.

Ian July 9, 20149:41 pm

It’s a tiny, tiny bit on the red side. Feels churlish to complain about that, given everything, though.

Ted July 9, 20149:39 pm

Is it just my *appalling* colour vision or is the Dutch kit too dark a shade of Orange?

Ted July 9, 20149:38 pm

I need to locate and consume some cheese.

Mark July 9, 20149:38 pm

Woooh. Proper swipe by Demichelis on Sneijder. But not even a hint of a booking or a dust-up or…anything. Booo.

Mark July 9, 20149:35 pm

Messi offside – “Poor, that. He could see right across the line there,” absolutely no-one said.

Ted July 9, 20149:31 pm

I do now regret giving him a petri dish full of cooties and telling him to “slip it under Jim’s pillow, you know it makes sense”, however. That was wrong.

Mark July 9, 20149:31 pm

Wonder what noise that Mascherano head clash made. The word “clunk” comes to mind. Hope he’s OK, although alongside Demichelis its going to be hard to judge.

Ted July 9, 20149:30 pm

I met Clive Tyldesley once and told him that his best commentary of that summer’s (2010) World Cup was the semi final, when Jim Beglin was taken ill at the last minute and had to to it on his own.

I was right.

Mark July 9, 20149:27 pm

Fair point, Ted.

Lavezzi fancies it tonight. Even outdoing Messi on the setpieces so far. In fact, this…THIS is the Argentina I tipped to win the tournament.

Ted July 9, 20149:25 pm

My contention is: Clive Tyldesley is the best commentator on free-to-air British TV. However, the planks they put alongside him drag him down. And WHAT a bunch of planks they are.

Jim Beglin. Andy Townsend. One can only assume that the next one will be Tom Cleverley.

Mark July 9, 20149:21 pm

Nick Lowe now is it??

“They’re saying Di Maria has an outside chance of making the final but that seems very unlikely.” – Tyldesley.
Well…yes. That’s what “outside chance” means.

Ian July 9, 20149:19 pm

Well, Mark, you’ve got to be Krul to be… OH, FORGET IT.

Mark July 9, 20149:16 pm

Was that Messi free-kick held up in the spray???

Mark July 9, 20149:13 pm

Not a bad first ten minutes considering neither keeper’s touched the ball.
If De Jong’s groin niggles him out of the match, will Van Gaal bring Tim Krul on to man-mark Messi?

Ian July 9, 20149:10 pm

I’m going short on the number of legs that Lionel Messi has by the end of the match, if De Jong is man-marking him.

Ian July 9, 20149:08 pm

So, the Di Stefano black armband. Not sure I’d want that for a player who transferred from one international team to another.

(Superb, superb player, of course – that surely goes without saying)

Mark July 9, 20149:08 pm

So…who “ruled” De Jong back INTO the tournament?

Ted July 9, 20149:03 pm

Best-case scenario tonight: one of the teams goes 7-0 ahead and the opposition supporters start a chorus of “it’s just like watching Brazil”

Mark July 9, 20149:03 pm

“Proper game,” Townsend promises. Not like that hooky, snide stuff they’ve been showing on the Beeb. Presumably.

Ted July 9, 20149:01 pm

The Argentinian players are wearing black armbands tonight in honour of the late Alfredo Di Stefano. But more significantly still, they are also wearing black SHORTS. Up yours, FIFA.

Mark July 9, 20149:01 pm

Barry Foster. Blimey. Never imagined his face would be in my minds eye at kick-off.

Ted July 9, 20148:59 pm

Today’s Dutch team: William of Orange, Captain Jacob Van Zanten, Van Der Valk,…

Well, you get the idea.

Mark July 9, 20148:58 pm

Watching the 1998 edition of this World Cup finals rivalry, I realised what this tournament has missed most of all. Rolls. Ortega, Simeone, Numan…all fouled, all rolled at least four times – Simeone made it to six and, believe me, had to work harder than Dirk Kuyt on a busy day to complete the sixth.
Neuer rolled and tumbled after an early bit of sweeper-keepering last night, but that was almost genuine compared to the past masters. Robben just dives…and wins games, as I suspect he might tonight. Not like the old days.
Here’s to an all-European final of “America’s Cup.”??

Ted July 9, 20148:58 pm

Today’s Argentina team: Pope Francis, General Leopoldo Galtieri, Eva Peron, Che Guevara, Maradona…

Ted July 9, 20148:51 pm

Greetings sports fans. I’m sat here, watching the ITV pundits, wondering why the development of the way we watch televised football hasn’t developed at all for the last forty years. And wondering, too, at the uncanny resemblance of Martin O’Neill’s body language and gestures to those of Truman Capote.

Truman Capote material, folks. You don’t get this on The Guardian live blog. Well, actually, you probably do. But perhaps not on The Daily Telegraph’s. For one thing, most of the people who read The Telegraph probably think some of the things Truman Capote got up to should be illegal. Or still are.