In the second semi-final, Argentina edged past Netherlands 4-2 in the penalty shootout on Wednesday to set up a summit clash with Germany. In an exclusive chat with Aditi Tyagi of Zee Media, former Indian skipper Baichung Bhutia said that the hero of the match was certainly the Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Romero. He also felt that Messi is now just a step shy of becoming a legend.
Excerpts from the conversation:
The second semi-final went to the penalty shootout after a goalless 120 minutes, what`s your take on the match?
Unlike the first semi-finals, this was quite a dull match. Both the teams applied defensive tactics. They failed to provide any kind of excitement in the match at least in the regulation time and then in the extra 30 minutes too, they couldn`t score a goal. Argentina and Netherlands didn`t play open football and focused more on their defence.
Who was the hero of the match according to you?
In a goalless match, which goes to penalty shootouts, hero of the game has to be the goalkeeper of the winning team. And in the 2nd semi-final, my hero was no other than Sergio Romero, who saved two spot kicks to take his team to the World Cup final after 24 long years. His two saves did the trick for his side.
Do you think Dutch manager Louis van Gaal is equally responsible for the team`s defeat?
I think Van Gaal tactically did a fine job by marking Messi, which was his challenge before the match. Due to the tight man-marking, Messi hardly got any chance to score a goal in the entire match. Messi found it difficult to get free space as the Dutch number six, Niegel de Jong, marked Messi like a shadow. So tactically, Van Gaal did a decent job. Apart from that, I think he should have substituted the skipper Robin van Persie much earlier in the match, but he took that decision quite late.
Now Messi-led Argentina has reached the final of the tournament, isn`t it the best chance Messi has to silent his critics?
Undoubtedly, Messi has got the best opportunity to win a World Cup for his country. He is just one step shy of becoming a legend. In the tournament, he has single-handedly won many matches for his side. And to make his fans happy, to win the hearts of all the Argentines, this is probably the best opportunity for him.