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Holland

The party’s over, and we’re already forgetting what she looked like. Futfanatico says reality has already been digested by the Spanish metanarrative, while David Gendelman at Fair Play says we’re all already losers. At True/Slant, Zach Dundas argued before the match that the two squads embodied the two sides of soccer: control versus incident, era versus accident. Fake Sigi says it wasn’t the worst World Cup ever, just “crap soccer masquerad[ing] as the pinnacle of the sport.” And The Globe and Mail’s John Doyle enjoyed watching the upending of North American notions of sport as a series of Hallmark moments.

(Image credit: mallix/Flickr through a Creative Commons license.)

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Why You Can’t Truly See Bastian Schweinsteiger

The milky refractions of history: Brian Phillips at Slate argues all soccer romantics (i.e., lovers of Dutch soccer history) should be rooting for Holland’s true heirs Spain Sunday, saying that “great teams in other sports beat their opponents. Great teams in soccer beat both their opponents and the game.” Stefan Fatsis at The Goal Post wonders for whom Papa Cruyff will be rooting. And Charles Holland (!) at Minus the Shooting says such “myths of the near past” obscure our clarity of vision for national teams — we can’t see how boring Spain really is, or Bastian Schweinsteiger as subtle and sophisticated.

Clear and Hold

Yes, they’re all European — but the other thing all three teams left in the World Cup share are shapes featuring two deep but complimentary midfielders…one creative, one holding. “[I]t is very difficult to establish control of a game without a composed player operating in central areas who is capable of picking a pass and either slowing or raising the tempo when necessary. Deploying two destroyers leaves a team bereft of that control in the middle of the pitch and unheathily dependent on their forwards for inspiration.” (Tom Williams/Football Further)

Reads of the Day: Mythbusters

How many more historical narratives can this World Cup overturn? The Dutch and the Germans have switched shirts, says David Winner at Fair Play — “Germans are teaching the Dutch to win, the Dutch [like Van Gaal and van Marwijk] are teaching the Germans to play spatially-sophisticated attacking football.” Maybe the narratives of all four semifinalists were never true to being with, argues Tom Dunmore at Pitch Invasion. But beware the voodoo death, warns Minus the Shooting — the physiology of belief, “belief instantiated in the autonomic nervous system,” that underpins why opponents collapse when a German midfielder simply appears organized.

Greed is Good

Individual greatness in soccer often equals selfishness; but how do World Cup squads full of selfish stars determine who gets to be selfish now? The Dutch example is worrisome — Robin van Persie usually plays as “selfishly” as Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben, but it’s Sneijder and Robben who are given license now, even though Robben is ignoring pass targets and Sneijder is firing 40-yard free kicks into the stands (well, but not always). (John O’Brien/Goal-The New York Times)