Dragon chic: From left, Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto, Real’s James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale, Iker Casillas, Marcelo and Xabi Alonso, and Real’s representative Emilio Butragueno, right, pose for the photographers during the presentation of the Real Madrid’s new Champions League kit at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. The new Champions League kit was designed by Yohji Yamamoto. Bottom: Bale’s new soccer shoes. (Photos: Andres Kudacki/The Associated Press)
The golden gates of football’s Olympus may yet swing open Sunday to admit Lionel Messi.
On a cool, wet, night long on discipline and distressingly short on artistry — an anti-Messi evening if there ever was one — the planet’s greatest player reached his first World Cup final, and Argentina’s first in 24 long years, 4-2 on penalties following a dire, defensive 0-0 draw through 120 bob-and-weave minutes against the Netherlands.
While this could still wind up being Messi’s tournament (although it’s doubtful German boss Joachim Low lost any sleep watching the dire goings-on at Arena Sao Paulo) Wednesday night belonged to others, to mere mortals. (Photos: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images; Victor R. Caivano/The Associated Press)