In two quarterfinals games on Friday, a depleted Germany scraped though with a solitary goal against an impressive French side, while Brazil defeated Colombia 2-1 in a bitter fight with painful consequences. It was the fourth straight semifinal entry for four-time World Cup winner Germany, who went into the match with as many as seven injured players on the benches and effectively thwarted the challenge posed by France’s frontline players, whose luck deserted them. As for Brazil, despite a good show in the first half, they lost their nerve in the second half, when Colombia severely challenged them. They finished victors in a match, which saw a rough and a bitter display, which saw even their goalkeeper getting a yellow-card. More stupidly, Captain Thiago Silva got his second consecutive yellow card to miss the semifinal against Germany on Tuesday. But the worst fate beckoned Brazil, minutes before the hooter, when Neymar fell and broke his third vertebra. This rules his out of any football action for at least the next four weeks. Felipe Scolari must be a concerned man now as he would immediately run out of option for the big game against Germany in three days’ time.
In Maracana stadium at Rio de Janeiro, a packed crowd of about 75000 watched two of Europe’s best football teams take on each other. After their disastrous show in South Africa in 2014, France was determined to put up an effective show after they looked formidable at group stage. Germans were aware of this, as the match began. Since their last match against Nigeria, France forwards have shown poor finish, after mounting some well carved-out attacks. Yesterday, in the first half, France had seven shots at the goal but not one could trouble German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. In contrast, Germany’s four attempts on French goal resulted in a13th minute goal by Hummels, who found himself at the right spot with Toni Kroos sending him a cross from a free kick. France’s goalkeeper captain Hugo Lloris couldn’t even react as Hummels’ precise header flew past him. France raided Germany’s penalty area in the second half but failed at the finish. Even Germany found difficult to enhance their lead in the second half but it was France, who had more chances. Karim Benzema had a big equalizing opportunity in stoppage time, when he surged in from left but his shot was deflected by Neuer. In the end Germany went through at the expense of the frustrating Frenchmen.
The second match at Fortaleza featured the home side playing against Colombia, who were 2014 World Cup’s most motivated team. The Colombian government announced a national holiday for as big an occasion as its quarterfinal match against their famous Latin American counterpart. The entire stadium was awash with yellow interspersed with insignificant patches of red as Brazil began on an attacking note straightaway. They appeared quite organized and with sorts of talks about their mental health, they wanted an early breakthrough. Luckily, the goal arrived with Neymar taking a corner, supposedly aiming it on the heads of either Fred or Luiz. But the shot flew higher and landed near Silva, who lost no time in using his thigh to put the ball in. The crowd went into a frenzy of instant celebration but for Silva it was apt redemption from his anger against some senior Brazilian footballers, who had blamed Brazil for its mental weakness and intervention by team psychologist. In the frenetic first half, both sides launched attacks on one another, though Brazil appeared to dominate. They also affected some reflex saves, when Colombians came charging in and Silva’s interception in the 20th minute to prevent Juan Cuadrado from passing to James Rodriquez was particularly exemplary.
Brazil lost the rhythm in second half and regularly lost the ball to Colombia. There were avoidable fouls from both sides, including one, in which Rodriguez was yellow-carded. The only redeeming moment from Brazil came in 70th minute, when David Luiz curled a 25-yard free kick that dipped into the goal to leave Ospina surprised. The last 20 minutes were dominated by Colombians and Brazilian got a bit jittery. In a foolish act Silva tried to snatch a ball from the hands of Ospina and earned his second successive yellow card that rules him out of match against Germany on Tuesday. Brazil conceded a penalty in the 77th minute, when Cesar brought down Bacca. James Rodriquez converted to bring the score to 2-1.
Brazil’s cup of woes was full, when Neymar was brought down minutes before the final whistle. It was revealed later that he broke his third vertebrata and will not be a part of the World Cup 2014. For big Phil, it is now a big test with Silva and Neymar becoming unavailable after one of the roughest games this World Cup.