CAPE TOWN, South Africa – No trash talking needed. Germany was just too good for Argentina.
Miroslav Klose scored twice to move into a tie for second on the all-time World Cup scoring list, and Thomas Mueller and Arne Friedrich added goals to give Germany a resounding 4-0 victory in the World Cup quarterfinals. As flashbulbs popped, the Germans hugged and high-fived each other before walking around the edge of the field, saluting their fans.
Injured captain Michael Ballack came down to the field, watching from the bench as his teammates celebrated.
Argentina coach Diego Maradona took a slow walk to midfield, hands jammed in his pockets, while several of his players broke down in tears. It was a surprisingly meek end for the Argentines, whose dominant run had given fans hope this might be a team capable of reaching the final for the first time since 1990, when Maradona led them on the field.
Instead, it is Germany that will play the winner of Paraguay-Spain in the semifinals Wednesday in Durban. This will be Germany's third straight trip to the semis and its 12th overall - nobody has more.
Argentina and Germany have had a testy relationship since trading World Cup titles in back-to-back finals 20 years ago, and it's been downright ugly lately.
After Germany eliminated Argentina on penalty kicks four years ago, also in the quarterfinals, the two teams exchanged punches and kicks in a scuffle. A few team officials even got involved in the scrape.
Germany didn't wait for the game to get its digs in this time, with Bastian Schweinsteiger on Wednesday accusing the Argentines of lacking respect for opponents and referees. Captain Philipp Lahm chimed in a day later, essentially calling Argentina a bunch of hotheads.
The trash talking appeared to be carefully orchestrated, intended to ignite Maradona's infamous temper and distract his team. Or, perhaps, to put the refs on notice.
Turns out, Germany didn't even need the head games.
Argentina has been one of the tournament's darlings, with Maradona's every move causing a stir and superstar Lionel Messi showing you don't need to score to be sublime. The Argentines rolled into the quarterfinals as one of only two teams to win its first four games - the Netherlands was the other - and had been so powerful they never trailed.
No wonder there was a star-studded crowd on hand at Green Point Stadium, with German chancellor Angela Merkel, Mick Jagger, Leonardo DiCaprio and South Africa's own Charlize Theron all spotted in the VIP seats.
But Germany showed that Argentina doesn't have the lock on flair in South Africa.
Its spacing, pace and flat-out stingy defense made the Argentines look out of sorts all afternoon. The Albiceleste didn't get their first shot on goal until the 33rd minute, and any time they appeared on the verge of making something happen, the German defense shut it down.
It was enough to make Maradona clutch his fists in agony, looking as if he was physically pained.