The USA, Salut! Sunderland readers’ original favourite (heaven knows where all their votes came from but the team earned our affection) have gone. Then Belgium briefly carried our team-of-the-tournament only to go down to Argentina.
Now only the four semi-finalists remain.
And this, after the last of the quarterfinals ended with a penalty shootout win for the Netherlands, is how the vote looks tonight:
Netherlands: 31 votes (including 22 cast before the list was pared down)
Argentina 26 (21 earlier votes)
Germany 20 (16 earlier votes)
You may recall that Brazil had to be excluded from the original list because we were allowed only 30 names by the poll organisers. Difficult choice, made on account on Brazil being the host nation. Since it was at that stage a vot efor our second team, England could also be left out.
Even down to the last four, the Netherlands will not necessarily be a choice every Salut! Sunderland reader will welcome. Lovely to watch at their artful best, the Dutch have been all too ready to resort to appalling playacting at Brazil 2014, just as they adopted a gameplan based on common-or-garden thuggery for the 2010 final in South Africa.
So when things went against them against Costa Rica, the inclination was to say “so what?”. Robben was fouled rather a lot but also made the most of every contact with those yelps of imaginary pain, elaborative going to ground and the occasional multiple roll. No out-and-out diving tonight but why can’t he settle for being a great player?
OK, Diaz should have received a second yellow late in normal time, and the bar and post got in the way. But the Netherlands had lucky breaks, too; poor Diaz was hit in the shoulder and the ref gave hands, for a dangerous edge-of-the-box free kick, and an extra-time trip in the Dutch penalty box was missed.
But they’re now our choice. Argentina are five votes behind while Germany and Brazil share bottom place. In fact, there is yet to be a vote cast fro Brazil. I awarded them 20 as a starting point based on earlier voting for the rest.
Not happy with the Netherlands as our team? Here’s an other chance to influence that choice.