And the World Cup just keeps getting better!
Both favorites may have progressed today, and group winners may be 6-for-6 so far in the knockout round, but my oh my were these two games today the most exciting set of Round of 16 matches ever in a single day or what?
There was so much entertainment packed into the 120 minutes between Germany and Algeria that unless I'd be willing to go minute-by-minute, I'd be doing it major injustice. So let's just say that Algeria were fun and irresistible and heroic. Germany were laboured and persevering and heroic. Also, Manuel Neuer is a madman who currently (with respect to predecessors like Barthez of Higuita) best exemplifies the idea that goalkeepers are forever teetering on the edge between sane genius and insane lunatic. Or is he just an insane genius? Who knows.
After Algeria somehow failed to score in the first 45 minutes, Jogi Low sobered up long enough to make a change and bring on Andre Schurrle. The Chelsea man provided the pace and purpose for Germany that was missing in the first half and from then on it was an even contest. And by even, I mean end-to-end insanity, with double saves galore (M'Bolhi finished the match with 12 saves) and more Neuer shenanigans and breathtaking counters left and breathtaking counters right and last-ditch tackles and goal-line clearances and hilarious free kick routines and...
Eventually, Algeria's heroic efforts caught up to them. And while they did manage to extend the game into extra time, the German goal was coming more and more inevitably with every passing second. In fact, we had to wait just two minutes into extra time for Schurrle (who else?) to provide one of the best and cheekiest finishes of the World Cup (so far). Please also note the proper center forward run in the buildup from Germany's number 9.
I had my initial doubts, but the slow motion replays confirmed that he meant every last bit of that backheeling beauty.
Schurrle would go on to help add the icing on the cake as well, combining with Mesut Ozil for Germany's second in the dying moments of extra time. But because this match was absolutely insane, Algeria found a consolation goal in the even more dying of dying moments, and then almost had an equalizer when Slimani tried to loop a header over Neuer in the dyingest of more dying of dying moments.
This game. This [funning] game. Football!
P.S.: If that performance from Andre Schurrle hasn't earned him a start in the quarterfinal against France, I don't know what will.