Friday 10th of July in the Quarter Finals, Vera Cruz
Sao Paulo ended first of their group and won all their matches until now, not even conceding a goal, showing a complete domination over all their opponents. Germany on the other side struggled a bit against Nova Hollandia in group stage but has since rolled over its opponents as well. The two teams know each other quite well, this match is a classic of World Cups, and it has been played twice already in the Final. We’re impatient to watch this match, which we expect to be exciting, between two of the favorites for final vicory.
For the second quarter final of this 2020 World Cup, Germany faces San Paulo to find out who would face the host team Mexico in the next round. And it was not necessary to arrive late at the Olympic Field of Vera Cruz because from the first minutes, it is the Paulite who attack with Willian who does not frame a good header (3rd) then Neymar who lights his first wick of the match but who crushes too much his ball to worry Kocyła (6th).
But it is Germany which will shine first, after 15 long minutes where the two teams neutralize each other, Szymon Sójka, deported on the right side, addresses a brilliant long pass on the left side to Nguyễn Tất Thành who provoked his vis-à-vis before crossing for his attacking teammate who had time to get into the area. The Mannheim forward takes the ball from the shoulder and the head at the same time but it is not enough to deceive Cassio (7th).
Germany gets in the best tracks for this match which promises to be a tight one. And tight it is, since during the 15 minutes that follows, neither of the two teams cannot get opportunities.
It is finally on a free kick that a thrill will arrive, by NTT. On a kick stopped 25 meters from Paulite goals, Thành curls up his shot at mid-height but fails to deceive Cassio who made an exceptional parade to divert the ball. However, he cannot block the too powerful shot, and the ball lands right in Sojka’s feet, well positioned, who simply pushes the ball into the net, watched by a powerless Cassio on the ground(22', 0-1)
Ten minutes later, it is Neymar who will have the opportunity to shine with a similar free kick but the shot of the Santos forward is countered by the German wall (33rd). A wall is the best possible definition to describe the German defense as impressive as it is to annihilate every Paulite attack.
As the half-time draws closer, Dorival Junior's men push but fail to create real opportunities or strikes. It is ultimately Szymon Sójka who will be the author of the only strike before the break but Der Husar does not control the volley and does not frame his shot.
The second period began on a high note as the Paulite returned to the field with new intentions. After making a siege of several minutes of Kocyła’s goals, the Lusitanians get a corner. Renan Lodi and Arthur Melo play it together and the Colchonero offers a perfect center for Felipe Monteiro who propels the ball into the back of Kocyła’s nets (56th). The joy of the Paulite is short-lived, the referee cancels the goal because Monteiro helped himself climbing over Abdelali Hachadi to win the header.
This warning allows the German team to immediately regain the mental advantage and gives strength to his teammates. His defense comrades in particular will offer a collective block model, suffocating the Paulite who have trouble to find the opening, each time stumbling on a defender leg, Kocyła’s arm or failing to frame.
However, things will change at the 80th. As he was slowly progressing, deprived of solutions to find his teammates, Gabriel Jesus attempted what seemed a desperate shot towards the goal. The shot was not very powerful, and Kocyła was on it. Inexplicably, he failed to block the ball as it passed below him and ended in the goal’s nets. (80', 1-1)
This time the Paulite could truly rejoice of this miraculous Jesus goal, and as the German goalkeeper was still wondering what happened, the Roxos were pushing forward to try and take the advantage. With four attempts in 5 minutes, by Neymar, Wllian, Jesus and Neymar again, the Germans were now praying to keep the score intact until the end of regular time.
But at the last minute, Szymon Sójka will once again make the powder speak. A counter-offensive well launched at the entrance to the penalty area by Wolff, who just won the ball from Neymar, Der Husar will simply offer Germany his best inside of the foot to send Germany in semi-finals as the ball reaches the small net opposite to a helpless Cassio (90+4', 1-2).
In the end, after an interminable additional time, Neymar and his friends say adios to Mexico while Germany qualified for the semi-finals of this World Cup and will face the said Mexicans.
THE MATCH NOTE (81/100)
General show (15/20): The match was a masterpiece for who likes tactics, but not very spectacular to the common fan. It was mostly an opposition of styles with the realism of the Germans winning over the Paulite extravagancy. At some key moments, like the end of the match, it became quite spectacular as Sao Paulo was dominating.
Opportunities and Goals (13/20): While there were a lot of beautiful occasions, Sao Paulo’s goal was probably scored on the worst shot they took. We felt for the poor Kocyla who played an almost perfect match except this mistake at the 80th minute. Sojka’s goals were clinical, the first one in his typical style of poacher, and the second as the end of a flawless counter-offensive.
Technical quality (20/20): That was without a world-class level of technicity for both teams. It is no surprise that they were both favorites for the final victory, between Neymar’s head-spinning and kidney-breaking dribbles, Sojka’s precise shots, Willian’s fast rushes, D’Egidio and Sulzberger’s clearances, Marquinhos’ tackles, ah, it was all splendid. NTT’s free-kick was wonderful, and his cross for Sojka on the first occasion is perfect. There was close to no mistakes on either side, well except at the 80th…
Scenario and suspense (18/20): A true rollercoaster of emotions! The scenario is cruel for Sao Paulo, being crucified at the last moment when their hopes were at the highest level. They would have probably won if the match continued into the extra time… But Sojka’s amazingly cold blooded-goal decided otherwise. We can’t help but feel relieved for Kocyla whose spatio-temporal black hole mistake would not be held against him, and we’d rather remember how many times he saved his team.
Bonus and penalty (15/20): For this category, we explain to you, we start from 10/20 at each kick-off and we inflate or lower the score according to our own subjective criteria (we are the jury, we do what we want) :
+2 Kocyla’s perfect match before and after the 80th minute.
-2 Kocyla’s match at the 80th minute.
+2 Germany’s defense in general, relentlessly annihilating every Paulite moves.
+3 Szymon Sojka’s match as a prototype of the cold-blooded clinical striker, appearing at the right time and right place to score. Those are his 6th and 7th goals of the tournament.
+3 Neymar’s dribbling, simply.
6 GIFS THAT SUMMARIZE THE MATCH
Sojka when he gets the ball in the penalty box
Klopp at half-time
The goal of the 80th minute viewed by Gabriel Jesus
And after a long hiatus here are the current standings. I'm very sorry for the long delay, it turns out finals are a lot more stressful than i expected
Thanks a lot @Red Arturoist for taking over the group stage! Made updating this a whole lot easier
Mathias Vexin (53' Jean Le Cel)
Maurice Picard (87' Serge Aguerre)
Edouard Chavanne (65' Lucas Thorez)
Ange De Marie
León and Castille
Coach: Sérgio Conceição
(45' Iago Aspas) Angeliño
José Fonte Pepe
(72' Ruben Neves) Thiago
(81' Ricardo Rodriguez) Juan Mata
Antarctique 3 - 1 León and Castille
Goals: 1-0 Maurice Picard (10')
2-0 Lionel Messie (24')
2-1 João Felix (54') (p)
3-1 Maurice Picard (64')
Referee: Habib Azizi Kamara (Mandé National Union) - Grade B: No decisive mistakes. Godin should have been shown a second yellow card (75'). The penalty kicks (54', 81') both were very clearly correct, as was sending off Pepe (81').
As in most knockout matches, both coaches sent out their best starting eevens. The Gaillard team had to go without Dybala (severely injured against Madagascar), while Sérgio Conceição's squad had no issues with injury. However, Conceição benched Iago Aspas in favour of Diogo Jota as the latter was deemed to be the faster player.
And at first, the Lions' gamble seemed to pay off. Messie's attempt had been saved by Ruben Blanco, and over Raphael Guerreiro, Diogo Jota got the ball - and initiated a fast counterattack. Close to the penalty area, he played back to Raphael Guerreiro, who took a shot. And Alcide Becker had to stretch himself to save it (6')!
Only a few minutes later, Alexandre Tellès won the ball back from Guerreiro, Thiago was unable to stop Tellès from passing into the middle to Pariède, then to Vexin, who chipped the ball onto the right wing of Ange De Marie. Pepe had played De Marie onside, and De Marie outwitted first Jonny, then Pepe and then Jose Fonte beautifully before passing to the free Maurice Picard, who had no problem putting the ball into the back of the net! 1-0 Maurice Picard (10')!
Rubén Blanco had no chance, but he scolded his defence for leaving him in the lurch. And they tried their best, but a header from Picard (16') after a Messie free kick went only narrowly wide of the goal and a direct free kick taken by Messie (18') was cleared for a corner by Thiago.
And soon after, the spectators had not seen even one clear opportunity for León-Castille since the initial warning shot by Guerreiro, a dribbling by Messie from the far left - he had recieved the ball via an excellent change of sides over Marchand and Vexin - into the centre was robustly stopped by José Fonte. Rightfully, Fonte was booked and a free kick from this very dangerous position was awarded. 19 metres in front of the goal, centre-left position. Of course this was Messie's task.
And Messie took the free kick excellently, over the wall and towards the right corner. Rubén Blanco was on his way and Messie's ball would have likely gone wide of the right post, but the ball was slightly deflected to the centre-left by João Felix' knee! And landed in goal, in the centre-left below the crossbar! 2-0 Lionel Messie (24')!
Many, even among the spectators, thought this match was already decided - and indeed, until half-time, the match took place mostly in midfield. A powerful shot by Chavanne (37') went wide of the target, on the other side, Alcide Becker could safely pick up João Félix's weak header after a rather good corner was brought into the penalty area by Thiago (43'). Both defensive lines rather wanted to avoid making mistakes.
At half-time, Conceição brought on Iago Aspas for Angeliño, pulling Raphael Guerreiro as well as Diogo Jota back.
And indeed, León-Castille came back improved. Jonny fairly tackled Ange De Marie, regaining the ball, and passed it to José Fonte, who excellently passed the ball far forward onto Bruno Fernandes. Neither Godin nor Simon were able to catch up, but Alcide Becker could parry the cross/shot away (48'). The following corner was safely picked up by Becker.
Just a few minutes later, Rubén Blanco had picked up a shot by Edouard Chavanne, and passes the ball to José Fonte. Over Thiago and Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Jota, a perfect ball is played into the feet of João Félix, rather far to the left! But he is taken down in the penalty area by Jacques Godin - and immediately, Kamara points to the spot! A unanimous penalty, and Godin is booked!
João Félix himself took responsibility... and a powerful strike into the lower right corner! No chance for Alcide Becker! 2-1 João Félix (54')!
Hope was back for León-Castille, and quickly, they tried to follow up. Pepe excellently forwarded the ball onto the left wing of Diogo Jota, with Raphael Guerreiro backing him up. Diogo Jota outran Gabriel Marchand and - while Joseph Simon played him onside - passed onto the right wing of Juan Mata, he backwards into the penalty area to Bruno Fernandes! And he took quite a powerful shot, but it hit the right post and could then be cleared off the line by Godin (57')!
Again only a few minutes later, having recieved the ball from Raphael Guerreiro over Thiago, Bruno Fernandes passed it onto the right wing of Juan Mata, who pulled towards the centre, outrunning Gabriel Marchand. In a centre-right position, he outwitted Joseph Simon, but his shot was parried away for a corner by Alcide Becker! The following corner was brought in by Thiago and found the head of Iago Aspas, whose header went only just wide (62')!
But of course, such offensive play as was shown by the Lions always bears the risk of running into counterattacks. After another corner (Thiago took it, but the ball was picked up), Becker kicked the ball forward - and it reached Jean Le Cel. Under pressure from Jose Fonte, Le Cel passed it onto the free left wing of Lionel Messie, back to Le Cel (now onto the right wing), who crossed it into the penalty area! Edouard Chavanne let it through, and the ball came perfectly onto the foot of Maurice Picard! And Blanco even had himself nutmegged by Picard's rather weak shot, which found the back of the net! 3-1 Maurice Picard (64')!
Clearly, such a weak shot should have been saved by Rubén Blanco - a mistake by the goalkeeper.
And with this, the match was indeed decided. León-Castille's morale was broken, whereas the Gaillard team could just administrate the result without really trying to score any more goals. Their defensive approach was also reflected in a change of formation from 4-2-4 to a 4-3-3 with a fully defensive and two rather defensively oriented central midfielders.
Nevertheless, Messie (68', 77') and Picard with a header after De Marie took a corner (73') still had at least half-opportunities.
The dominance of Antarctique increased when Ange De Marie took another corner, bringing it deep into the penalty area. A surprise strike by Lucas Thorez! But it was stopped on the line, and immediately, Kamara awarded another penalty kick! It was not Ruben Blanco who stopped the shot, but Pepe - and he did it with his arm!
Pepe, in what well could be his last national team match, was rightfully sent off with a straight red card for handball on the goal-line.
And, despite Messie having already missed a penalty during the group stage match against Madagascar, he took it again... The penalty is quite well-taken, but Rubén Blanco makes a flying safe and can parry it away with his hands, back into the field! And Ange De Marie puts the follow-up over the crossbar (81')!
Not much more happened afterwards, but it was even clearer now that Antarctique was in control and won this match deservedly.
And thus, we can look forward to the semifinals of the 2020 World Cup: Mexico vs. United Neutral Team and Antarctique vs. Belgium
RÉPUBLIQUE ANTARCTIQUE VS. UNITED BELGIAN PROVINCES SAN FELIPE STADIUM, LEÓN
C: Good afternoon and welcome to the San Felipe Stadium! This is Carla Schulenburg along with Pablo Cervantes and we’re very glad to be here at León for the second semifinal of the World Cup. Yesterday, our very own national team made quick work of the United Neutral Team, the Germans, and is awaiting their rival in their quest for glory. Today, this year’s dark horse, the United Belgian Provinces will face South American powerhouse, the République Antarctique, led by global superstar Lionel Messie.
P: Thank you, Carla. It’s been a long way since that first match between Mexico and Provence almost a month ago but we are now almost at the finish line. Still, there are three matches yet to be played, including this one, and I couldn’t be more excited to narrate this clash, which promises to be spectacular.
C: Indeed, the Pumas have done what everyone expected them, topping their group without problems and sending home Gran Colombia and León-Castille, the latter one of the favorites at the start of the World Cup. On the other hand, Belgium, leaning on their golden generation has done an outstanding job, topping their group as well and reaching the semifinals after defeating Nova Hollandia handily and surprising the world by knocking the French juggernaut out of contention.
P: Both teams are sticking to their main lineup, leaving surprises for some other occasions. Both sides boast very offensive minded players, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see several goals today.
C: We’ll see in a few minutes. The players are entering the field and the national anthem ceremony we’ll be underway in a moment. We’ll now stay quiet to respectfully listen to the anthem of each nation.
P: Incredible, it seems half of Belgium crossed the Atlantic to support their team in this semifinal. And what to say about the Antarctique followers? As passionate as ever! It is now time for the kickoff.
0’ C: Here we go! Louis Souaret passes back to Messie and the Pumas are on the offense now.
15’ P: The first fifteen minutes of the match have been relatively calm, with both sides measuring each other and trying to find a weakness to exploit. So far neither team has been able to mount a significant offensive.
17’ C: First shot by Antarctique! De Marie crosses a ball towards Souraet, who violently volleys the ball towards Courtois goal, only for it to crash against the left post and go out for a throw in. P: What a shot, if it had gone in it’d definitely be considered for goal of the tournament. Alas, luck wasn’t with the veteran striker this time.
25’ P: Here comes Mertens, trying to surpass the Simon-Godin-Laxalt barrier, near the Antarctique box, it seems as if he is about to shoot… wait, he just sent a pass to Witsel, who appeared out of nowhere and is now ahead of enemy lines, what will he do? He hits the ball towards goal and there is Becker, controlling that cannon ball as if it was nothing. First dangerous approach by the Belgians.
26’ C: Now it’s the turn of the South Americans, as Becker doesn’t waste a single second and sends a long ball towards Vexin, who sprints through the middle of the field and opens towards De Marie. The Paris Saint-Germain winger is now passing the ball to Messie who puts his companion in a great position with a quick return pass. The shot by Di Marie! Wide! Courtois only eyes the ball as it goes out.
39’ P: After those minutes during which both times traded shot after shot, actions have slowed down again and the pace has settled in a low-intensity battle in the midfield, with neither team being able to string more than 3 consecutive passes.
40’ C: One moment! Vexin errs his pass to Pariède and Mertens picks the ball, only Simon and Marchand are now between the Belgian star and Becker, Mertens enters the box and faces Simon, the defender goes for the ball… what happened? Mertens is on the ground and his teammates are asking for a foul! Simon vehemently points toward the ball.
41’ P: The referee is now heading towards the VAR booth, what will he decide? For me, it is a penalty without a doubt, Simon lost track of the ball and sent Mertens to the ground. What do you think, Carla?
C: I will have to disagree with you, Pablo. It is clear that Simon touched the ball and Mertens fell as part of the inertia of the play.
42’ P: Well, we’ll now see who’s right, as the referee is coming back. He is pointing towards the penalty mark, we’ve got a penalty! Simon has also been booked as well.
43’ C: Mertens is asking for the ball, the SGSP striker currently has 2 goals in the tournament and will be looking to net his third now. Here he comes, Becker is jumping up and down trying to distract him, he shoots… oh! Spooned the ball right in the middle while Becker dived to the right. The score is now 1-0 for Belgium!
45’ P: Half time! Belgium leads 1-0 and now Antarctique will have 45 more minutes to score at least one goal.
46’ C: We’re back for the second half here at León. It seems Antarctique will make one change, with Thorez coming in place of Simon. A smart move by the coach, taking a more offensive stance in an attempt to equalize the game. On the other hand, the Belgians will keep playing with the same 11 players that started the game.
50’ P: Here come the Pumas once again, pouncing against the Belgian goal for the second time in this half. This time is Messie, moving from left to right, he brushes past Meunier and Schuurs and shoots! The ball crashes against the crossbar and goes out for a corner kick.
56’ C: Free kick for Antarctique! Alderweireld tackled Chavanne near the left corner post and now the Pumas will have one new opportunity to equalize the game.
57’ P: Here comes Messie with the cross and GOAL! Souaret beats Chadli to the jump and heads the ball to the back of the net. It is 1-1 now and Antarctique is back in the game.
C: The Belgians must get their head back into the game or things could get worse, as the South Americans have been playing flawlessly for most of this second half, leaving their foes with little to no chances.
71’ C: For those who are just joining us, the score is currently 1-1 between Antarctique and Belgium, goals by Souaret and Mertens respectively. Right now Picard is coming in place of Chavanne, making it Antarctique’s second substitution of the game. As for the Belgians, they’ve already sent Vanaken and Carrasco to the field. Each team has one substitution left, two in case this goes to extra time.
P: Not much has happened since Souaret’s goal, with both teams more concerned with defending than trying to score, almost as if they were afraid to concede a goal if they attacked too much.
80’ C: Time keeps passing by and the ghost of extra times looms bigger with each minute that passes. Aside from a wide shot by Mirallas and a header by Picard caught by Courtois, things have been calm.
85’ P: Free kick for Antarctique, this could be the winning goal for the Pumas. Ball right outside of the box and Messie ready to shoot. Here he comes, what a save by Courtois! The Belgian keeper flew across the goal to deny the Antarctique striker what seemed to be a sure goal. We will surely be this save for many years to come.
90' C: That's it! Regular time is over, we are heading to extra time, where the endurance and resilience of these two teams will be tested.
P: I love extra times, 30 more minutes of football and the possibility of penalty kicks? Sign me in!
95' P: A wide round of applause for Louis Souaret by the Antarctique fans here at León, the author of the 1-1 gave a great match, but he is not what he used to be four years ago and will cede his place to young maverick Paul Dybala. Let's see if he can make a difference and break the tie.
102' C: Here comes Belgium! Marvelous pass by Da Mota to Beerens, who forwards it to Mertens, there he goes! GOAL!!!!! Belgium leads 2-1 with 18 minutes to go. Wait a minute... what happened? The referee is saying Mertens was offside. The Belgians protest, but the decision won't change. We're still 1-1 after 102 minutes.
115' P: Both teams are exhausted and the game ressembles a training session more than an actual semifinal game, apparently both sides would rather start taking penalty shots right away.
120'+2 C: Extra time is over! Penalty kicks time! For many, a test of skill and steel nerves, for others, a coin toss. Whatever their opinion, I’m sure fans from both sides will be on the edge of their seats for the following minutes. It is finally time to meet the second finalist!
Belgium will take the first penalty kick and Vanaken will be the first man to shoot for his team. Here he comes... field goal! The shot ended in upper stands of the stadium. What a terrible start for the Belgians, who are now against the goal from the beginning.
Messie will take the first penalty for Antarctique, he shoots... Goal! He put the ball low and next to the post, far from the reach of Courtois. 1-0 Antarctique.
It is Mertens turn. This will be the second penalty kick that the Belgian striker takes today. Earlier, he completly fooled Becker and scored in a display of iron will and skill. Here he comes... he did it again! Just as in the first half, he just spooned the ball towards the center of the net and Allison Becker once again got fooled. 1-1 now.
Dybala for Antarticque... what a missile! Courtois managed to reach the ball, but the strength of the shot was too much and Antarctique now leads 2-1.
Carasco for Belgium... goal! Nice shot! 2-2.
Picard's turn to keep Antarctique ahead, here he goes... goal! The ball lobs itself in the upper left corner of the goal. 3-2 for the South Americans.
Beerens to tie the score... goal! Becker froze and didn't move, while the ball passed him on his right. 3-3 and all is tied again, with Antarctique yet to take the 4th penalty kick.
Laxalt... goal! Now the score is 4-3 and Belgium must score or go back home.
Mirallas to keep Belgium alive... he places the ball on the mark and... what is he doing? He is signaling to the left side of the goal, as if daring Allison to dive that way. The goalie seems unfazeed. Mirallas... goal! Yes! Just as he said, he kicked the ball towards the left side. Allison also called his bluff, but couldn't reach for the goal. 4-4.
Here comes De Marie... If he scores, Antarctique will face Mexico in the final this Sunday. Courtois is staring at him as if his life depended on it. De Marie... saved by Courtois! The Belgian goalie keeps his team's hopes alive by blocking De Marie's shot! 4-4 and we're headed to sudden death.
Now here's a chance for the Belgians to get ahead for the first time: Da Mota... missed! His shot scrapped paint out of the cross bar, but the ball didn't cross the line and now the Pumas have a new chance of winning the game. 4-4.
Pariède for the ticket to the final... missed! Courtois saves his goal and team once again and is starting to look as the hero of the night. Still 4-4!
Witsel for Belgium now... goal! It is now 4-5 for Belgium and now Antarctique must score or say goobye to their World Cup hopes.
Here comes Le Cel, all the responsibility on his shoulders... goal! The game is tied again! 5-5.
Menuier for Belgium... blocked by Becker! The keeper correctly guessed the trajectory of the ball and kept it out of his goal. Still 5-5 and a new chance for Antarctique.
Thorez... missed! Still 5-5 and it seems neither teams wants to face Mexico in the final.
Jans... goal! Belgium is up again 6-5. This just keeps getting more exciting! Keep going, boys!
Godin to keep his team alive... goal! Great shot that completely fooled Courtois! 6-6.
Alderweireld for Belgium, here he comes... he slipped! But still, he managed to touch the ball and send it to the back of the net, as Becker dived to the other side. 7-6 for Belgium.
Marchand... goal! 7-7 and now is the turn of the goalies to feel the pressure on the other side.
Courtois will be the first to shot, Becker facing him. Here goes... missed! Becker waited until the last minute and stood still, as Courtois' shot went straight against his chest. 7-7
and now Becker has a chance to become the hero of the night: he gets into position while his teammates look from afar and Courtois tries to distract him. Here he comes... GOAAAAAAAAAL! Becker scores and Antarctique is in the final!!! What an exciting match! What a great end to this game! The Pumas will now face our very own Mexico National Team in the final.
It has been a great night! I am Carla Schulenburg, along with Pablo Cervantes and we will see you this Sunday at the Maximilian I National Stadium for the final between the Mexican Empire and the République Antarctique. Thank you and good night!
République Antarctique 1(8)-1(7) United Belgian Provinces Souaret, 57' - Mertens, 43'
République Antarctique: Becker, Marchand, Laxalt, Godin, Simon (Thorez, 46'), Pariède, Vexin (Le Cel, 80'), De Marie, Chavanne (Picard, 71'), Messie, Souaret (Dybala, 95')
THE FINALS OF THE AHFA 2020 WORLD CUP MEXICO VS. ANTARCTIQUE --------------------------------------------------------
"This great joust of nations is upon us. It is a battle that shall be fought not with bullets and blood, but through the noble sport of football. It is a battle of athleticism and sportsmanship. In this proud encounter, the New World shall be set ablaze by this great encounter. Mexico, our beloved fatherland, will prove to the entire world that the strength of our character and the purity of our hearts knows no equal. Tonight, this very field shall be made hallow by our victory. A victory I strongly believe, will lighten the dark like a beacon, and guide a blinded mankind towards a future of hope, prosperity, and cordial fellowship. No matter how fierce the battle or perilous the struggle, our dearest Mexico shall be covered in glory, for no amount of defeat can ever break it."
-Message of Emperor Maximilian IV in the eve of the final match
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the AHFA 2020 World Cup Finals! ¡Damas y caballeros, bienvenidos a la final de la Copa Mundial de la AHFA 2020! Mesdames et messieurs, bienvenue à la finale de la Coupe du Monde de l'AHFA 2020! Meine Damen und Herren, herzlich willkommen zum AHFA 2020 World Cup Finale! Дамы и господа, добро пожаловать в финал Кубка мира AHFA 2020! سيداتي وسادتي ، أهلا بكم في نهائي كأس العالم AHFA 2020!
Welcome, everyone, to the most extraordinary football venue in all of Mexico: the Maximilian I National Stadium. The Aztec Colossus, the Dome of Gold, the Sanctuary of Emperors! I don't think we could've hoped for a better weather: a light veil of clouds offers cool shade in this sunlit summer day. Of course, regardless of the conditions, it was obvious that fans and locals alike wouldn't have missed this historic match. Who would've thought it! Mexico, the underdog, shocked the entire world when it whizzed across the tournament without a single defeat to its name. Only opening match, the infamous game against Provence, ended in an uninspiring single-goal tie for the Plumes Serpents. But Mexico's football team would prove itself to be a formidable foe, breaking through the likes of Germany and Celtica, marching on towards the finals. I'm sure every citizen of Mexico feels proud. And as host nations! The electricity truly is palpable in the air. History is on the making!
However, we cannot forget Mexico's adversary today, the Republic of Antarctique. I can hardly think of a more fearsome rival. The South American nation completely powered through the championship with a clean, all-victory tally, barely batting an eye while demolishing Colombia, León-Castille, and Belgium. Their aggressive, finely coordinated style of play has left the world in complete awe. They truly are one of the strongest, most powerful teams of this competition. Mexico will have to put out its best performance today if it hopes to crown itself as the AHFA 2020 World Champions.
The Prime Minister of Antarctique, Louis-Albert Lacalle, is in attendance today. He flew in this morning from Bon Air and has just arrived at the Stadium. He is seated on the royal viewing area, alongside His Imperial Majesty Maximilian IV, Emperor of Mexico, and the Empress-consort, Princess Pamela of Mexico. Antarctique's head of government issued a brief statement: "Let's hope that both teams play fairly and enthusiastically. Whoever wins, let it be a statement of peace and cordiality between the two countries."
Both teams have been practicing all day. Mexico has a secret advantage: they're used to the diminished oxygen supply that comes with Mexico City's dizzying altitude. Antarctique may have a hard time adapting. However, their physical strength is clearly exceptional, and they might be able to power through. Just under twenty minutes before the match began, the Mexican Imperial Guards paraded down the field, followed by a speech from Maximilian IV. Then, the flag-hoisting and the two national anthems. It was here that it became evident just how outnumbered Antarctique fans were. It is no surprise, however, considering the historical significance of today.
And the ball has been released! The referee has blown the whistle! The AHFA 2020 Final Match has officially begun!
Right off the bat, both teams have clashed with tremendous force. Look at that energy! Action is concentrated along the midfield, neither side is giving up. You see players like Ange De Marie and Hirving Lozano just pouncing on the ball like jaguars. It is a deadlock!
Minute 2, looks like Antarctique has broken through. A well-placed pass from De Marie to Louis Souaret; Souaret whizzes past Oribe Peralta, and he dashes across the field. The entire Mexican team is running after him, while only Edouard Chavanne and Lionel Messie are in position to provide support. Long shot over to Messie... he catches it with his chest, and it looks like he's ready to score. Messie cannot be stopped! Oh, but what's that? Someone's rushing in...
It's Javier Hernández! He's headed straight for Messie... He slams against the ball, and he comes crashing down. He's a rocket! I don't think I've ever seen a crazier stop in a regular AHFA match, let alone the Finals of the World Cup. The referee stops the action, but Hernández isn't injured. He did, however, stop an early attempt at breaking the 0-0 tie. An exciting start to the match!
The minutes continue to mount and not a single goal has been scored so far. It is rather unbelievable: it appears that Antarctique's technical superiority has been cancelled out by Mexico's altitude-adapted physical prowess. The two teams are exactly equal. Several exciting plays have taken place, mind you: on Minute 12, Mathias Vexin cannoned a powerful shot onto Mexico's net, only to be miraculously saved by goalie Ochoa. Then, on Minute 23, the unstoppable duo of Giovanni dos Santos and Rodolfo Pizarro charged at Antarctique's positions after a blunder from Joseph Simon, only to be disabled by the extraordinary footwork of Messie. Attack after attack, offensive after offensive, the two sides show off their monumental skill and strength. However, as the tally remains blank, it becomes apparent that this match will drag on into a brutal, long struggle.
Minute 35, it appears that Mexico's defense is slipping. Rafael Márquez, the aged veteran, is not as sharp as he once was. Chavanne barely batted an eye as he dribbled past Márquez, pouncing on the goal zone like a jaguar. It's all on Ochoa, Mexico's miracle-maker. Chavanne kicks the ball, Ochoa leaps...
And the ball flies over the net! A minuscule miscalculation from Chavanne's part just costed Antarctique the coveted head-start. The South American players gaze in despair as the prospect of a prolonged, heavily-taxing battle of attrition becomes a reality. Both sides just swallow it up and charge ahead. On Minute 37, Mexican coach Miguel Herrera pulls out Márquez in exchange for young blood, rookie César Montes. Márquez has stated that this World Cup Final will be his last match as a professional football player. As he walks out of the field, he receives a standing ovation from Mexican fans, as they are witnessing the end of a truly impactful athletic career.
The referee blows the whistle. Minute 45, half time for the AHFA 2020 World Cup Finals. Both teams are extremely exhausted, although I believe that the toll is more emotional than physical. It is always stressful when a 0-0 tie drags on until half-time, for it is indication that a plus-90 minute match is ahead. Antarctique's coach, Marcel Gaillard, had this to say:
"We appreciate and recognize the abilities of Mexico. However, it's just a matter of acclimatization. Even with this so-called disadvantage, we managed to tire them down quite a bit. Once we get physically ready, the trophy is ours. I don't doubt that for one second."
Miguel Herrera also commented:
"Empty talk, that's what they're doing. They have no hopes of winning, and they know it. They think they can scare us, no? They think they can win this match by talking. Well, guess what? The winning's done with your feet, not your mouth. If Antarctique really is better than us, how come they haven't showed it yet?"
Things are getting interesting at the Finals of the AHFA 2020 World Cup. We'll be back after this brief commercial break, stay tuned.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the AHFA 2020 World Cup Finals, Mexico vs. Antarctique. We kick off the second half with a worrying 0-0 tie, despite the many attempts from both teams to reverse this situation. Minute 46, right off the bat, Antarctique switches Louis Souaret with young blood, Paul Dybala. Exchanging experience for prowess? It is true that Antarctique's team is, on average, older than most other teams. Some would argue that's what led them into the finals, while others may say that only a new generation of players can meet the physical demands of this Final match.
Minute 58, looks like Antarctique is back at it. Star player Messie attacks the Mexican net with his characteristically superhuman skill. Defense Miguel Layún intervenes... the two are parrying and dribbling the ball around. That is buying Layún's fellow players time to swarm back in and protect their area. Eventually, Messie breaks loose, but the momentum is gone. With a swift move, captain Oribe Peralta has regained the ball.
Messie's a lone wolf. He's an exceptional athlete, but he lacks teamwork. You know, I've heard many times that Messie single-handedly brought Antarctique to the final game. If that's the case, maybe it is coming back to haunt him. If they lose today, nothing else will really matter.
You can feel the tension in the Stadium, folks. Tickets sold out within an hour, the place is absolutely packed. People are getting nervous, it's just twenty minutes left for regular playtime, and not one side has scored. And that's the frustrating part, right? They've come so close in so many occasions. In exactly five minutes the Stadium will no longer sell alcoholic beverages, for the sake of maintaining peace once the game is over. This time around, however, I don't think people will need to get drunk to get rowdy.
Minute 82. Despite the weariness, it appears that Mexico's offensive is still active. Key players like the iconic Javier Hernández and Raúl Jiménez, who traded places with Layún on Minute 80, are prodding Antarctique's increasingly weary defense. Hernández dashes forward, and intercepts a stellar pass from Jiménez. It is back at Jiménez, then Hernández again. Antarctique's players cannot keep up. Goalie Alcide Becker is squarely within the net. It is all or nothing, this could be it. Will Mexico break the unbearable drought of goals?
No! Impossible! At the last moment, Hernández slips and falls down, apparently injuring his ankle. The ball harmlessly bounces off the field, and into the safe possession of Antarctique. The entire Stadium groans in exasperation. Looks like Hernández isn't shaking this one off. Paramedics are coming in... he is being led outside the field, and he's walking with a limp. Most likely a sprained knee.
Can Mexico afford to play with only ten players? Coach Herrera says no, and he uses his last time-out to call in rookie Carlos Cisneros. The young lad makes his way to join his fellow players. The loss of Hernández is a very costly one. Perhaps Antarctique can capitalize on this.
Minute 90. Folks, this is getting scary. Despite the loss of Javier Hernández, Antarctique's offensive play is nowhere to be found. Their star player Messie has now taken second stage, sticking to the defense. This is rather atypical of him. As you can see... physically, he does not look good. He's not used to the altitude, and it's affecting him. Maybe the theories that Messie brought Antarctique to the Finals do have some truth to them, as it appears that the South American team has lost all steam. Mexico isn't better off, either, with their cohesiveness slowly collapsing as fatigue intensifies. This is truly a battle of attrition.
Referee: Yudhajit Bhupendra Dharakeshvar (National Dravidian Union) - Grade A
Excellent refereeing in a difficult match with quite a few controversial situations.
At least some of the formerly German countries, whose combined national squads make up the United Neutral Team have been rife with controversy, even public outrage, ever since the squad was nominated. And this time, all the public outrage and heated debates in living rooms were not - like so many other times and in so many other countries - because the people thought a good player had been left out of the squad, the striker was commonly thought "not to have found his mojo", not because the manager's roster "lacked a left back" or was seemingly oblivious of the hot prospect of the nation.
This time, the controversy over the roster was a political one, as was evidenced by several heated speeches and GC posts.
Die Qualitäten von Herrn Reimann sind ja unbestritten, aber bietet ein bekennender Nationaltheokrat wirklich Gewähr, die Werte, für die die Vereinigte Neutrale Mannschaft steht und durch die sie erst möglich wurde, bedingungslos zu vertreten?
"The qualities/skills of Mr. Reimann are undisptued, but is an avowed National Theocrat really able to guarantee to unconditionally represent the values for which the United Neutral Team stands - Matthäus Drzikowski (Liberal Party in the Hanseatic Union), in an interview to the newspaper "Danziger Anzeiger"
Niemals darf ein Nationaltheokrat für den FC Hansa Danzig auflaufen! Die Gerüchte schockieren mich, u. in der Neutralen Mannschaft hat er erst recht nichts zu suchen! #KeinReimannTransfer #NiemalsfürDanzig #OffenesDanzig
"Never shall a national theocrat play for FC Hansa Danzig! The rumours [regarding a transfer] disgust/appal me, and in the Neutral Team, there is even less of a place for him! #NoReimannTransfer #NeverforDanzig #OpenDanzig"
- an outraged supporter of FC Hansa Danzig on GC
- Neutrales Team ist ein Zeichen des Friedens, super. Aber: Reimann ist offener Verächter der Arbeiterklasse! Batuhan Kırça, Ekene Chiemeka und all unsere #Helden rotieren im Grabe!
- "Neutral Team is a sign of peace, excellent! However:Reimann openly scorns the working class/proletariat! Batuhan Kırça, Ekene Chiemeka and all our #heroes are turning in their graves! - "Martin K" from Dortmund on GC
But Korbinian Reimann also gets quite some support:
Sport sollte von jeder Ideologie frei sein! Nur weil Reimann in einem nationaltheokratischen Land spielt, ist seine Nominierung politisch brisant? Soll man jetzt Spieler nach Haltung nominieren? Dann sinkt man auf die Stufe der Nationaltheokraten herab!
- Sports shall be free of all ideology! Just because Reimann is playing in a national theocrat country, his nomination is politically controversial? Shall we now nominate players according to [political] stances? Then you sink to the level of the National Theocrats! - Dietrich Haußner, representative in the Prussian Staatstag for the PVP, on GC.
with a typical, still harmless but clearly-targeted, response being:
Der Aufruhr von Liebknechtstadt ist aber bekannt?
- "You know about the Liebknechtstadt riots, do you?"
Intense debate is seen on GC, especially about the events after the game of Real Barcelona, in the European Premiership, against VAV Motor Liebknechtstadt where Korbinian Reimann, after the 2-0 victory for Barcelona, participated in supporters' national theocrat hooligan chants which, later that night, caused riots with dozens of injured and two dead, but also about an incident where he refused to shake hands with Ijendu Chidiebere (Stoke Industrial).
Before this match, though, most people in the German Community thought that the "Reimann Affair" was not much more than an internet campaign, but crowds in mostly North German cities became a bit smaller when the starting eleven of the third-place match was announced and Korbinian Reimann was part of it. Some radical Reimann opponents even began cheering on Belgium. Some more took to booing and whistling whenever Reimann touched the ball or singing anti-fascist and anti-national theocrat songs throughout the match.
But to look beyond the scandal: As is usual for the third-place match of World Cups, both starting elevens were heavily changed up. Only Abdulali Hachadi, Kevin Roth and Nguyễn Tất Thành remained from the usual UNT starting eleven, while some more players remained of the Belgian one.
And it was the Klopp team who started off dominantly. Just after kickoff, Kuechler's attempt at a cross to Piątek or Thành was cleared out for a corner by Toby Alderweireld.
Kevin Roth was responsible for taking the corners and - unusually - he took it short by passin g the ball to Sönke Frommann. Frömmann's audacious shot was easily deflected by Siebe Schrijvers, but the ball reached Bright Mohammad on the right wing who took an even more audacious and lovely attempt! Mignolet just parried it away against the post, where he got a grasp (1')!