Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press
When all is said and done, Louis van Gaal's Netherlands will look back on this summer's tournament with an immense sense of pride. However, the shenanigans surrounding their semi-final shootout loss to Argentina has to be one of the biggest disappointments of the entire World Cup.
Having successfully survived one shootout, the Netherlands were taken to penalties yet again on Wednesday. Confidence should have been sky-high, but instead the Dutch stars crumbled under the pressure in Sao Paulo.
With all three available substitutions having been made earlier in the night, Van Gaal simply couldn't deploy Tim Krul as a shootout specialist goalkeeper and that instantly heaped the pressure on regular shot-stopper Jasper Cillessen.
In the fallout of that extraordinary situation against Costa Rica, it became common knowledge that the Ajax custodian had never saved a penalty and that must have offered a confidence boost to the Argentina takers.
However, more damaging than that was the reported refusal of Dutch players to step up and be counted. According to Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail, two Oranje stars shirked the responsibility of taking the side's first penalty, leaving defender Ron Vlaar with the unenviable task of opening the shootout.
Inevitably, the centre-back missed, handing Argentina the advantage. Just seven kicks later, the Netherlands were out of the World Cup.