South Africa has seen some major drama in this world cup! France and former world champions Italy crashed out in Round 1, England and Portugal bowed out in the Round of 16, and Brazil and Argentina crashed out in the Quarters!
Here’s a look at the final four teams that are still standing:
Netherlands has a rich footballing tradition, but have never taken the trophy home. After being Brazil 2-1, this could well be their year! The Oranje were in the semis in 1998, and made two straight finals in 1974 and 1978. But for decades, the Dutch have been labeled the best team never to win it all. If they could come back against the Brazilians, thanks to two brilliant goals from Wesley Sneijder, then their major breakthrough could well be at hand, after 32 years of waiting!
Uruguay, once a soccer power, most recently an afterthought, broke South Africa’s heart on July 2, beating the last African nation in the fray — Ghana — 3-2 on penalties. (Uruguay won the first World Cup in 1930, then again in 1950, beating Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.) This is the country’s first semi-final appearance in 40 years. However, they will face the Dutch without their most important goal-scorer Suarez, who was red-carded when he used his hands to keep out a header in the last minute of extra-time, denying Ghana a place in the semis.
With its 4-0 rout against Argentina in the quarters, Germany will enter the semis more confident than ever. This is the youngest side to ever be sent to the World Cup, and they certainly don’t seem to be missing their captain from four years ago — Mikael Ballak. The team has a formidable defense led by captain Philip Lahm, and excellent mid-fielder in Bastian Schweinsteiger, great goal scorers Miloslav Klose and Mesut Oezil and Lucas Podolski.
Spain entered the World Cup as the favorites to win, but were off to a shaky start, losing 1-0 to Switzerland. That defeat, though, shook them, and they’ve become progressively better, beating Paraguay 1-0 to book their place in the semi-finals. Spain last claimed a space among the top four in 1950 in a round-robin final stage, but have never competed in a World Cup semi-final. Fernando Torres hasn’t got his groove back, but the individualistic David Villa is creating magic on the field, as are Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas, who replaced a shaky Torres 10 minutes into the second half. Other notables in the Spanish squad include goalkeeper Iker Casillas, defenders Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol and Sergio Ramos, and mid-fielders Xavi and Xabi Alonso.
(images courtesy fifa.com/getty images)