July 7, 2014 in Sports

Krul defends tactics

Dutch goaltender got in faces of Costa Rica penalty shooters
Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Netherlands goalkeeper Tim Krul makes a save on a penalty shot by Costa Rica’s Michael Umana for a victory on Saturday.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Netherlands goalkeeper Tim Krul insists he did nothing wrong in confronting Costa Rica’s penalty takers during a World Cup quarterfinal shootout.

Krul’s crucial two saves on Sunday night followed his novel tactic that tested FIFA’s guidelines on fair play. The substitute goalie faced up to opponents at the penalty spot and repeatedly told them he knew where they’d place their shots.

“I don’t think I have done anything wrong,” Krul said at a team news conference. “I haven’t shouted at (them) in an aggressive manner. I haven’t done anything crazy. I just told them I knew where they are going.”

The Dutch team’s 4-3 shootout win after a 0-0 draw set up a semifinal against Argentina.

Krul said he would do the same again if Wednesday’s match goes to a shootout and he again gets substituted in for Jasper Cillessen, who is expected to start in the Dutch goal.

“I am trying obviously to get into their heads and it worked,” said Krul, who instantly entered World Cup lore, both as a rare replacement and for his trash talk. “I use everything in my power to make it happen.”

Krul said he learned just before the match that he might be called on in a penalty shootout. Cillessen said he was not told.

Willian may replace Neymar

Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari hinted in training that midfielder Willian is his first option to replace Neymar in Brazil’s World Cup semifinal against Germany.

Willian took Neymar’s position when Brazil’s reserves played against a local under-20 squad at its training camp outside Rio de Janeiro.

The regular starters stayed in the gym and didn’t practice on the field, but all players touted as possible Neymar replacements trained normally. Willian was used in the middle, in front of Brazil’s defensive midfielders, the same way Neymar played before being ruled out of the tournament because of a back injury.

The other options for Scolari include Ramires, Bernard and Hernanes.

Brazil won the training match 3-0 with goals by Bernard, Dante and Ramires. It was Brazil’s second-to-last practice session before traveling to Belo Horizonte for Tuesday’s match at the Mineirao Stadium.

“You can’t compare Neymar to any other player, he has a lot of quality,” Willian said. “I have a different style. He is more of a striker, scores more goals, while my strong suit is to set up my teammates.”

Getting physical

Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger thinks Brazil has crossed the line with some of its hard tackling ahead of the World Cup semifinals and is urging referees to keep a closer eye on the host team.

“I am all for a healthy hardness but some of Brazil’s fouls were over the limit,” Schweinsteiger said. “Brazilians are not only football magicians, hard tackling is part of their game – we have to be careful and so does the referee.”

Brazil committed 31 fouls in its quarterfinal win over Colombia, which had 23. But it was one particular Colombian foul, by Juan Zuniga, which overshadowed the others because it took out Neymar with a fractured vertebra and knocked the Brazilian attacking talisman out of the tournament.

Brazil has committed 96 fouls in five games, significantly more than Germany’s 57. Brazil players have received 10 yellow cards, six more than German players.

Di Maria ruled out

Argentina midfielder Angel Di Maria has been ruled out of the semifinal against the Netherlands with a thigh injury while striker Sergio Aguero has been declared fit to play after recovering from a similar problem.

Di Maria limped off the field in the first half of Argentina’s quarterfinal win over Belgium after straining a muscle in the back of his right thigh.

Team doctor Daniel Martinez said tests showed it was a “first-degree” strain – the mildest kind, but added that Di Maria wouldn’t be fit to play in Wednesday’s semifinal.

Martinez said Aguero, who sustained a similar injury 10 days ago, had recovered in an “excellent” way.

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