Friday 27 June 2014 was the first day with no football, and people busied themselves trying to predict winners for the coming weekend’s round of 16 matches.
Saturday 28 June 2014
Brazil vs Chile
The host nation came into this match on the back of some underwhelming performances, with only poster boy Neymar seemingly firing on all cylinders. They were up against a Chile team that had looked impressive in the group stages, and had only lost against an equally in-form Netherlands team. Chile had made it to this stage of the tournament on three previous occasions, and each time they were eliminated by Brazil. So the omens were not looking good. Brazil went ahead in this one – Neymar’s corner nodded on by Thiago Silva and then prodded home by Sideshow Bob aka David Luiz. The home fans went wild. Hulk and Marcelo, between them, managed to gift the ball to Eduardo Vargas near the Brazilian penalty area, he fed Alexis Sanchez who had all the time in the world to place the ball in the bottom corner of the net.
The game ebbed and flowed with chances at both ends, and the teams could not be separated after 90 minutes. Chile had the chance to seal a memorable victory in the final minute of extra time but Pinilla’s shot cannoned back off the crossbar. Into the penalty shoot out lottery and it was left to Neymar to seal victory, which he did after his shuffling stop-start run up. Neymar’s tears flowed as did those of an emotional Julio Ceasar, and the riot police could stand down knowing Brazil are into the quarterfinals.
Brazil march, or should it be stumble on into the next round. Neymar doing all that is required of him – and helped, in this match by a much improved performance from Hulk. The rest of the attackers do not seem to be at the races though – another disappointing outing by Fred and not much better from Jo. Oscar a shadow of the first game player, and a nervous and shaky defence. But if Brazil can continue to win games playing like this, anything is possible in the final.
Colombia vs Uruguay
A Suarez-less Uruguay departed the World Cup as they were well beaten by an inspired Colombian team. A lot of the plaudits and headlines will inevitably be for James (pronounced “Ham-ez” to you) Rodriguez who scored both goals in a 2-0 win. The first goal was a fantastic piece of skill as he controlled the ball of his chest before swivelling and thundering the ball past the hapless keeper – what was even better, for me at least, was the little glance that Rodriguez gave as the ball was in flight towards him to check the keeper’s position. The sign of a truly talented footballer – analysing data and making calculations in milliseconds to make inspired decisions. There were tweets doing the rounds following the game that Alex Ferguson allegedly passed up a £5 million asking price for Rodriguez in 2010 and instead opted to buy Bebe for £7.4 million. Hindsight is 20-20. However, I think one of the best players for Colombia has been Juan Cuadrado who has lit up the tournament with his quick feet and four assists thus far.
Uruguay definitely missed Luis Suarez who was ejected from the tournament following his snacking habits on Italian flesh. Without him, the team floundered in attack with Edison Cavani cutting a forlorn figure upfront – this has been a terrible tournament for him. Diego Forlan is just not the same lethal player he was in 2010 and he was substituted after another ineffective game upfront.
Colombia march on to a date with Brazil. Here’s hoping for more Colombian goals so that we can see more celebrations like this….