Germany 4, Argentina 0
Cape Town, South Africa — Don’t mess with Germany, on or off the field.
Miroslav Klose scored twice to move into a tie for second on the all-time World Cup scoring list, and Germany backed up its pre-game trash talk with an emphatic rout of Argentina in the quarterfinals Saturday. The dominant display — along with Germany’s two other four-goal games — should demand the attention of everyone still playing in South Africa.
“It was absolute class,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said.
Hard to argue with that.
Argentina had been one of the tournament’s darlings, with coach Diego Maradona’s every move causing a stir and superstar Lionel Messi showing you don’t need to score to be sublime. The Argentines rolled into the quarterfinals as one of only two teams to win all its games — the Netherlands was the other — and had been so powerful they never trailed.
No wonder a star-studded crowd was on hand at Green Point Stadium, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mick Jagger, Leonardo DiCaprio and South Africa’s own Charlize Theron all spotted in the VIP seats.
But Germany overwhelmed the Argentines, and shut down Messi in the process. The reigning FIFA world player of the year leaves South Africa without a goal and was in tears after the game.
“He played a great World Cup,” Maradona said. “And I tell you, to see Messi cry in the dressing room, whoever says that he doesn’t feel pride for his shirt is stupid.”
Maradona was equally devastated. He walked slowly to midfield with his hands jammed in his pockets when the game ended and couldn’t muster any energy or enthusiasm at his news conference.
“I’m as disappointed as all Argentinians,” said Maradona, who cast doubt on his future as national coach. “To see my country lose a football match is very hard for someone who has worn the shirt.”
Germany will play Spain, a 1-0 winner over Paraguay, in the semifinals Wednesday in Durban. This will be Germany’s third straight trip to the semis and its 12th overall — nobody has more. But the three-time champions haven’t won a title since 1990.
Maybe that’s why their celebration was so low-key — the Germans are hoping for something bigger in a week. Players hugged and high-fived each other before walking around the edge of the field to salute the crowd.
Spain 1, Paraguay 0
Johannesburg — Spain found just enough of the beautiful game — and a touch of good luck — to advance to the World Cup semifinals, beating Paraguay on Saturday night.
David Villa took the tournament scoring lead with his fifth goal, which banked in off both posts in the 83rd minute. The goal finished off a brilliant, three-way passing combination that typifies the way the European champions like to play. It sent Spain into the World Cup’s final four for the first time in 60 years.
“The post wanted it to go in,” Villa said.
Spain faces Germany on Wednesday in Durban — a reprise of its 1-0 victory in the Euro 2008 final.
“Every game is different,” Villa added. “I’m sure Germany isn’t happy we got through.”
And for Spain, anything is possible with Villa on the field. Not only is he the Spaniards’ best finisher, but he’s a sparkplug with his darting runs and imaginative moves.
“He’s at the top of his form,” coach Vicente del Bosque said of Villa. “He’s first to the ball every time. Villa had that hunger for the goal that allowed him to convert.”
That goal came off the kind of attack that has carried Spain toward the top of the soccer world. Andres Iniesta surged through the Paraguay defense and passed to the right to Pedro, whose right-footed kick slammed off the goalpost.
The rebound came to Villa, and his shot hit the far post, then — amazingly — caromed across the net, off the left post and in.
“The Germans have played a brilliant World Cup so far,” Iniesta said. “We’re also at the top of our game, I think. It will be a game between two rivals who enjoy having the ball and I think it will be a beautiful battle.”