The team has raved about Johnson in recent
We dont like penalty shootouts to end matches. Thats what they tell us. Play on until they score. Argentina and Netherlands may still be playing until Sundays final if that were the case. It was a drab affair, arguably the worst game of the World Cup. With so much on the line, no team came close to proving why they deserved to win it. Fittingly, the record books will show it as a draw: A stalemate in every sense of the word. It was a chess match where both players didnt make moves for long stretches. Just when it looked like either of them could capture their queen, along came two of the best pawns on the board. It was Javier Mascherano vs. Ron Vlaar. Both players were magnificent for their team but their standout performances said a lot about the oppositions weaknesses. Argentina have been waiting for a player to step up to a level that Lionel Messi has been at during this World Cup, but on a night when their current captain didnt get close to that level, their former skipper stepped up with an absolutely immense performance. Mascherano sat deep, allowed the defenders to play deep as well and flat out refused the Dutch any space in front of them. It forced their opponents to play long balls to try and get Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie into the match. In possession, Mascherano was also excellent with distribution helping his side attack down the right and target Bruno Martins Indi. Louis van Gaal reacted quickly at half-time by removing the Feyenoord man. That Argentina forced them into a move so quickly played a big part in how the game was played. When Nigel De Jong, back after a thigh injury, had to come off in the second half, suddenly van Gaal only had one move left. A move he decided to use by removing the ineffective van Persie in extra time. No one could argue that the Dutch team needed Klaas Jan Huntelaar but for a game that looked so destined for penalties, the removal of the Manchester United striker could be questioned. What definitely needs to be questioned is the order of the penalty takers for the Dutch. It was clear that van Gaal wanted to keep as many of his players in the same spot as they were used in the shootout victory over Costa Rica. That day the Dutch went four-for-four in order: van Persie, Robben, Sneijder, Kuyt. Huntelaar was the fifth taker but wasnt used. Against Argentina, van Gaal looked at his team and knew the only one he had to replace was van Persie at number one. Every credit to Ron Vlaar, the Aston Villa player, to step up and replace van Persie in the shootout but making him the first shooter was the wrong decision. In 24 previous World Cups the team that missed first lost 20 times. You cannot ask a player to take the first penalty in a key shootout when he wasnt even in your choice to be in the top five in the last shootout. Vlaar had had a wonderful match. Argentina tried to force things wide but ultimately they were drawn back centrally and Vlaar, in the middle of the back three, won every tackle and aerial duel he went for. After 120 minutes, though, his job was not done. Showing nerves, he stepped up quickly, from the prompt of the whistle, and it wasnt a good penalty. The moment Vlaars effort was saved by Sergio Romero the momentum changed. Lionel Messi was the right choice for Argentina to take the first penalty and, to no ones surprise, he scored. Messi had struggled throughout the game, which was the first World Cup game he has played when he didnt get a touch in the opponents penalty area. It was clear the Dutch had done their homework and their mandate was to shut down Messi. He will receive his fair share of criticism based on this performance but, once again, this match was another shining example of how much he needs his teammates to take him to glory. The Barcelona man has carried Argentina to this stage, it is only fitting that some - in this case Romero, Mascherano and the rest of the shooters - helped carry him to the final. They are, however, a team that arrives in the final with flaws. This is nothing new. Many teams have reached the World Cup Final when not playing very well but few have won it. Argentina showed a lot of grit and fight in this semifinal, just like they did in the 120 minutes against Switzerland and the narrow 1-0 defeat over Belgium. However, despite their fight they do look very ordinary. They arrive in the final after scoring just two goals in three knockout matches. The only team in World Cup history to do that was Argentina in 1990 and that was a terribly average side who frustrated Germany for over 80 minutes in arguably one of the worst games in football history. No one will be hoping for a repeat on Sunday but I am sure it will cross Argentinas mind that they will be naive to think they can play an open, expansive game against Germany. The Dutch end their quest to be world champions with their heads held high. They went further than most imagined and many of their young players, players produced by their own clubs in their own league, will grow and get better for this experience. Many will also find new clubs, too. However, they will also reflect on just how close they were – once again – to getting over a significant hurdle on penalties. Van Gaal departs for Manchester United after a very good World Cup but ultimately his decision on the order of the takers had a massive impact on this result. wholesale jerseys china . -- Charlie Graham stopped 67 shots as the Belleville Bulls edged the visiting Guelph Storm 6-5 on Saturday in Ontario Hockey League action. wholesale jerseys .com) - Nate Thompsons goal with 2:30 played in overtime lifted Anaheim to a 2-1 decision over Dallas from American Airlines Center. http://www.wholesalejerseysdeals.us.com/.Didier Drogba has been Chelseas only fit striker in its last two games with Loic Remy also out with a groin injury, and Mourinho says it is difficult when you only have one striker available but when you have two, the situation improves. wholesale nfl jerseys china . Kane, who was leading Chicago in scoring when he was hurt in a game against St. Louis on March 19, resumed skating on his own five days ago. On Wednesday, he skated with his teammates for the first time in the hours before a game against Montreal.JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart wont play Sunday at Tennessee because of a sprained right foot.Coach Gus Bradley ruled Gerhart out Friday, saying backup Denard Robinson, rookie Storm Johnson and journeyman Jordan Todman will split carries against the Titans.Signed in the off-season to replace Maurice Jones-Drew, Gerhart re-injured his foot in the first quarter of Sundays 17-9 loss to Pittsburgh. He practiced Wednesday, but sat out Thursday and Friday.I have all the respect for Toby, Bradley said. He really wants to play, but after talking to the doctors and the trainers and as coaches, we just stepped in saying, Lets give you this week off so you can stay off of it. We will hopefully accelerate it and were not dealing with it from week to week.Its tough on him. I know the team holds him in such high regard because of who he is and what hes battling, but I think this is truly best for us and best for the team.Gerhart has 48 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown this season. He ranks nnear the bottom of the league in yards per carry, averaging 2.dddddddddddd6, and has been slowed since injuring his foot and ankle during a horse-collar tackle in the season opener at Philadelphia.Bradley declined to name a starter, saying it would depend on what formation the offence opens in Sunday.The team has raved about Johnson in recent weeks, saying the seventh-round draft pick from UCF has natural running ability and lots of upside.I think that you will see all three of them have a chance to play in different roles, Bradley said. It does create opportunities. It is that clich?? next man up, so it will give more opportunities to D-Rob and Todman and Storm. All three will be utilized.Johnson led the Jaguars with 24 yards rushing against the Steelers.He came back and had a really good week this week, Bradley said. I think that the more reps he gets in practice, the more accustomed he gets. Hes doing some really good things in practice.___AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL wholesale jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys china jerseys from china nfl jerseys cheap authentic cheap jerseys ' ' '
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