Uruguay has been led by Diego Forlan, maybe the MVP of the tournament so far, and Luis Suarez, both of whom have scored three goals (of Uruguay's seven). But Suarez, captain of Ajax in Amsterdam, is suspended for this game. He was the guy who stopped the last-second shot by Ghana with his right arm. Red card, penalty shot.
"It was a natural reaction," said coach Oscar Tabarez. "The player didn't know that they [Ghana] were going to miss the penalty."
"Truth is, it was worth it," said the 23-year-old Suarez.
The Netherlands, which has three players who are teammates of Suarez' at Ajax, is 5-0 in the tournament following its 2-1 quarterfinal elimination of Brazil. The Dutch have never won a World Cup, but were finalists in 1974 (losing to West Germany in Munich) and 1978 (losing to Argentina in Buenos Aires).
"We've won five times in a row and the victory over Brazil gives us such confidence. Now we're in the last four, we want to play the final," said team captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst.
Tomorrow's semifinal is more traditional, Germany and Spain, a rematch of the 2008 European championhip game where the Spanish scored a 1-0 victory on a goal by Fernando Torres.
And if Uruguay's Forlan and Wesley Sneijder, of Netherlands, are their team's MVPs, so are Mesut Ozil, of Germany, and Spain's David Villa.
Yes, Ozil does not score as much as Thomas Muller (three goals, red-card suspension for this game) or Miroslav Klose (four, 14 in three World Cups), but the 21-year-old Werder Bremen star puts the Germans in motion. Like Forlan and Sneijder, he'll have the ball to set up his team's attack.
Villa, tournament leader with five goals scored (of Spain's six), only has the ball just before it crosses the goal line. One more goal - he has 43 in 63 games - and he ties Raul as his national team's all-time leading scorer.
"We beat Germany 2 years ago and I don't think they are happy to meet us again," Villa said. "But we have to forget about that game. Without a World Cup, it's like we've achieved nothing."
Winners advance to Sunday's championship game in Johannesburg, losers head for the third-place game Saturday in Port Elizabeth.
And Uruguay will be in one of those games.
* As the South American coaching carousel goes round, Dunga was fired as Brazil's head coach, Paraguay's Gerardo Martino is stepping down, and there is no word from the Argentine federation or Diego Maradona on his status.
* Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon had successful surgery in Milan for the herniated disc that sidelined him for all but one half of Italy's abbreviated three-game World Cup stay. He's expected to miss at least the first month of Juventus of Turin's season.
* Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has dropped a threat to suspend the national soccer team from playing for 2 years because of its poor World Cup showing and corruption allegations. FIFA had set a deadline of last night for the Nigerian government to drop its suspension plans or face harsh international sanctions.
* Mauricio Espinosa, the Uruguayan linesman who failed to see that a shot from England midfielder Frank Lampard had crossed the goal line against Germany, has described the error as "unfortunate."