It took the Germans five years to remove that thorn that had penetrated them very deeply in Rio de Janeiro. That win against 5-2 in the semifinals had been felt in body and soul the then two-time Olympic champions. But now they took revenge. In the quarterfinals of the Tokyo 2020 Games. It was a 3-1 victory. And it was the elimination of the Lions, who said goodbye to their giant illusion of winning a new medal.
The first 10 minutes were of an absolute study by the two of them. None seemed convinced to risk. Between Argentina, who, when they had the ball in their possession, tried to take care of it without haste, and Germany, who came out determined to block with just two forwards waiting in the middle of the court, began to put together a close, tough and very tactical game.
The idea of one and the other was absolutely clear: protect oneself in the defensive sector and prevent the adversary from reaching the circle. They both knew that there each one had his best virtues to hurt.
Until Vila found Mazzilli at 11 minutes and the selected one had his best chance of the first half. It was afterwards that the forward-steering wheel settled her with the back of the stick and took the shot that went just over the crossbar.
Argentina seemed to cheer up with that action and immediately it was Keenan the one who managed to get rid of a triple mark and, after taking a half turn, look for the center: Bugallo he managed to deflect but the archer Stadler she answered rightly, gnawing at him.
Lucas Vila before Linus Muller. Germany was effective and is a semifinalist. Photo CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP
Up to that moment he had not hurt Germany, which He even seemed more comfortable in his conservative stance. But it was enough that Wellen accelerated into the circle, Rey touched the stick and that was the first penalty corner.
The Argentine defense was firm in that first attempt but the new infraction motivated the new fixed and there Lukas windfeder got it right. With a very strong shot, low and to the right of Vivaldi, he overcame the goalkeeper’s resistance and made it 1-0. They were 19 minutes.
The goal emotionally shook the match. And the Argentines felt it more, undoubtedly. They gave up possession – they would end the first half with a greater amount of income to the circle anyway: six against four – and, to top it off, Rey had to get injured on his right arm (he later re-entered but had been touched) when Wellen threw all his humanity on him.
Germany was left with one man less for the yellow card but Argentina lost by a long passage his midfield timekeeper and a fundamental figure in its structure.
The Germans celebrate Lukas Windfeder’s goal. Photo EFE / José Méndez
At the start of the complement, the Argentines sought to stand a couple of meters later on the court; Faced with this attitude, the answer was a good defensive system, with his men closing diagonally before the adversary advance and with all of Germany convinced that, without the ball, no one could be in front of their line. So it was all more uphill.
And worse was the situation when after 10 minutes the difference in another fixed increased, confirming that in modern field hockey (almost) everything is defined by that play.
The thing about the Germans, in the third short, was a delight, a real blackboard move. They combined it between three players at the base and at the indicated time the captain Hauke looked for the detour. There were two men face to face with Vivaldi and it was Timm Herzbruch, finally, the one who converted.
The Argentine team began to fall into despair, with excessive protests and offensive oversights like that for which the third goal almost came after a long run of Staib. Between the stick and Vivaldi, Argentina remained alive.
But nor for much longer. Because at 17 minutes, in the short quarter, the winner went 3-0. Again Windfeder was relentless in the drag. There was still a long way to go but the game already seemed to be something judged.
The pain of Pedro Ibarra, who minutes after the defeat announced his retirement from the team. AP Photo / John Minchillo
The thing is did not reach recovery on the scoreboard and in the mood that the discount meant. It was when Argentina, at last, found the short. He was stopped for a violation of Casella on two occasions. And in the third, at 22 minutes, he was finally able to violate Stadler.
There was still plenty of time ahead. Eight minutes. Then there was three more shorts. Two went to Casella and one to Captain Ibarra. However, the defense of the outgoing thwarted the new goal.
Nothing else was left to do. And the Tokyo dream ended that way, at noon and under the relentless sun. Thus, too, ended the incredible reality of being an Olympic champion for five years. To be above all. Nobody will take that poster away from Argentine men’s hockey. And it will be a pride forever.