World Cup 2014: Matchday Twenty (Quarter Finals)

France 0 – 1 Germany

The Germans controlled the tempo of the game at the start, stringing passing along, getting around the French flank defences and generally showing little sign of “flu-like” symptoms. That’s how they always do it of course. France did come into the game after a period, with Benzema having the first proper shot, wide, after around seven minutes. The goal then was a bit of a shock, Hummels darting in well to nod home Kroos’ free.

Germany kept up the pressure, peppering the French box with passes, through balls and flank attacks. But apart from a few decent penalty shouts, they weren’t threatening the French goal. Of course, the French weren’t doing anything at the other end either, until Valbuena’s rifled volley was brilliantly saved by Neuer past the half hour mark.

The game settled down into a possession game after that, with Germany having the better of it, but neither side looking very potent in front of goal. Ozil and Cabaye were having decent games on either side of the field, and Benzema was looking threatening at times, his shot straight at Neuer, after a great cross field pass from Pogba, one of the only sniffs of goal either side had by the end of the first half.

It was a cagey start to the second half from both teams, the Germans going back to dominating as much possession as they could, and the French trying a more fast paced, direct approach, with Sakho and Cabaye getting a lot of room down the flanks to send crosses in, Varane’s header from one being the first real chance of note in the second 45.

As time kept ticking away the French started controlling more of the game, but it really seemed more a case of Germany letting them than as a result of their own initiative. Valbuena and Greizmann were able to fashion distant efforts that did not trouble Neuer, while at the other end keeping the pressure on and forcing mistakes, the German attack was able to hand decent attempts at the feet of Muller and substitute Schurrle.

Remy’s introduction gave France a bit more pace, and Matuidi had a shot well saved just after Benzema was denied by the quick reactions of Hummels, having his best game of the tournament. The Germans always looked capable of hurting the French on the counter, and Schurrle should have scored with the goal at his mercy in the 82nd minute. The Germans closed it out but the French were able to make one last chance, Neuer saving calmly from Benzema’s 94th minute effort after some good French build-up.

Big names like Pogba and Benzema did not play to their utmost. The Germans were professional and controlling without being spectacular, showing of how good they can be in just about every department except for their conversion rate. But they are still semi-finalists, and with every chance of going all the way.

Brazil 2 – 1 Columbia

A tremendous atmosphere in the Estadio Castelao aided in the tension for this CONMEBOL encounter. The game had not even settled when Brazil were in front, Silva just about steering in Neymar’s early corner, leaving the Columbians rocked. They responded positively though, with Cuadrado going close only a few minutes later. It was fast paced helter skelter stuff for those opening minutes, two attacking sides going full pelt.

Brazil began to take a greater hold of the game, Hulk and Oscar going close in a nice sequence of play. Now they were looking like the Brazil of legend, with Fernandinho doing fantastic in midfield, winning balls and setting up swarming attacks. Marcelo was the next to go close, forcing a fine save from Ospina. Columbia were struggling to get anything going, Rodriguez marginalised by several defenders anytime he got the ball.

After the initially great pace to the game, both sides slowed things down towards half time, Hulk’s having a wayward effort while Columbia struggled to test Cesar at all. Neymar’s free right at the half was the last chance of consequence, spinning wide. Brazil had dominated but failed to make full use of that advantage.

The second half started scrappy, with Brazil turning to rough tactics to try and stem the Columbian attack. It made for dire stop start football, but it was very effective, Cuadrado and Rodriguez unable to get anything going in the Brazil half.

Columbia were only just starting to get back into the game – Yepes’ disallowed goal was a good indication of the threat they carried – when Brazil struck again, Luiz’ sweet free kick swinging into the top right hand corner. The second seemed like it would be a dagger, and Columbia were hopeless in the following minutes.

It seemed like Brazil might coast to victory, until Bacca, after good work in the build-up from Rodriguez to set him clear, was upended by Cesar, inexplicably receiving only a yellow. Rodriguez slammed it home and the game had some life again. Columbia pressed, Brazil delayed, but no more clear chances were made.

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