Winners of Group A vs Group C. Brazil vs Colombia. We just couldn’t pick from between the two sides. Neymar vs James. Cesar vs Ospina. This would be anything but a stultifying encounter.
The first period saw Brazil’s Jogo Bonito in full flow, as they exuded class and were simply too good for Jose Pekerman’s side. 7 minutes in, Brazil won a corner after some industrious work by Fernandinho. The corner was delivered through the center and went past a throng of bodies only for Brazil’s El Capitano to help the ball into the back of the net. Dismal defending from Carlos Sanchez and it wasn’t one of the most elegant finishes, but in this case, ends justify the means. What mattered was that Brazil had the lead. Fortaleza was rampant, loud and robust. The numerous fans in yellow were euphoric and celebrated with some style. The remainder of the half saw Ospina being tested and being forced into some smart saves. James Rodriguez tried to run his magic but was halted time and again. He too, has the knack for the theatrical, another similar quality to Neymar. The game was frantic and fast at Fortaleza and it was Brazil, who were tactically triumphant. At halftime, Brazil were looking whilst, Colombia would need to step up their game which had been very boring and predictable. Colombia could not keep up with the big boys and failed to get James going, and with their fast paced players not doing enough, a breakthrough was not on the cards.
The second half brought us neutrals to the edge of our seats. With Brazil playing their way, even Colombia stepped up and the introduction of Ramos gave them a new dimension in attack. Silva was booked, and will miss the next match, for needlessly blocking goalkeeper Ospina’s attempted clearance. Colombia then felt they should have been level after Mario Yepes’ scored following a goal-mouth scramble but had his effort controversially ruled out for offside in what was arguably an earlier phase of play.
Colombia conceded a stupid free kick with just under 20 minutes to play and it was capitalized by another P$G player. This time, it was David Luiz. It was an absolute belter. It beat the seemingly impermeable wall and thundered into the back of the net, leaving Ospina helpless. It was a stupefying finish. It was also a memorable achievement for the man as he became the first Brazilian player since Ronaldinho, to score direct free kick in a World Cup (2002 vs England).
A few minutes later, there was more drama. Julio Cesar took substitute Carlos Bacca down and Colombia had a penalty. It was coolly converted by “IT’S HAMES NOT JAMES” Rodriguez. He became the first ever player to score in his first five 5 World Cup games since 2002, (Rivaldo) and he got his 6th of the tournament. That was it from the goals, and Brazil scraped through in a very scrappy match.
Brazil were physically strong and bulldozed James and Co. to pave their way to the semis. They gave none of the key players any time on the ball, and with Colombia having no plan B, it was easy for Brazil. Fred was invisible and Hulk was mediocre. Neymar tried his usual trickery, but he is so weak, he wouldn’t last 10 minutes versus Stoke City. Fernandinho was a powerhouse and with Paulinho, Brazil struck a formidable partnership. But the biggest plus point would be the center back pairing of Silva and Luiz. Both scored a goal and both defended like their life was at stake. It was simply stunning.
Brazil will be without captain Thiago Silva who picked up a stupid yellow card and will be possibly without Neymar too, who got injured. James could end up as the Golden Boot Winner still. He was in tears at the end of the game and was consoled by David Luiz. It was a shame as Colombia had been superb, but they lacked the quality to beat the likes of Brazil, Netherlands, Germany etc. To be champions you need to win dirty, ugly or simply beautifully, and Colombia couldn’t do all of that and hence bowed out. Every member ofBrazil’s starting XI tonight committed at least one foul. Only four of the 26 players used, did not. A total of 54 fouls were committed in this game, the most in this World Cup finals.
Brazil sealed their berth in the semis and will face Germany, to set up a mouth watering tie. They will need to produce another solid display like this, but their physical game will be no match for Germany’s tactical prowess and Scolari will have to engineer another way to win the game. The Brazilian dreams lives on whilst the Colombian one is shattered.
FIFA Man Of The Match: David Luiz
Helped keep things tight at the back for Brazil as he was strong in the air and passed out from the back accurately. His goal proved vital and was absolutely stunning. P$G will have lots to look forward with this guy joining them over the summer.
Our Man Of The Match: Thiago Silva
Answered his recent critics by opening the scoring after seven minutes and proving to be an absolute rock in defence. A cheap booking will keep him out of the semi-final, though. He was the difference between the two sides, as his defending and physicality helped keep Colombia at bay.
Our Flop Of The Match: Teófilo Gutiérrez
The River Plate striker was completely ineffectual in attack. His movement was poor and he barely saw any of the ball before being replaced. He seemed fazed by the task in front of him. Never really got going and was stopped everytime he even had a sniff of the ball. Gave no assistance to James and had a terrible evening.