2014 FIFA World Cup: Day 20 Recap

Mats Hummels scores the only goal his team needed to beat France
Mats Hummels scores the only goal his team needed to beat France

France Surrender Early Goal, Can’t Fight Back

There were rumours of a bout of the flu making its way through the German team’s ranks, but France must be feeling sick after falling in their quarter-final match.

The two teams’ disappointing offences were evenly matched but for one goal on Germany’s side of the ledger. In the 13th minute Toni Kroos swung a free kick into the French penalty area, where it met the side of Mats Hummels’ head and eluded diving keeper Hugo Lloris. Otherwise both Germany and France looked as if the last thing they wanted to do was score.

Karim Benzema, who was supposed to be the focal point of the French attack, was largely bottled up even when could get the ball in dangerous areas. Germany’s defence blocked multiple opportunities off his head and feet while German keeper Manuel Neuer batted away the few balls that came near his goal. Most of France’s shots came from narrow angles, giving Neuer the easiest path to a save. One header from Raphael Varane looked destined for the top corner, but Neuer calmly plucked it out of the air, never looking worried for even a moment.

Aside from the lone goal, Germany’s offence looked disconnected when it came time to send the ball towards the French net. In the final 10 minutes alone they botched two chances that could have extended their lead. First striker Thomas Muller swung and flat-out missed a cross, which Andre Schurrle then bounced weakly off the sprawling keeper’s leg, then Schurrle managed to pound a wide-open shot right into the gut of a nearby French defender.

Germany have quietly asserted themselves as real contenders for this World Cup, but they’ll have to win two more matches to prove they’re the best in the world.

South American Slugfest

The beautiful game can be so ugly sometimes. The quarter-final match between Brazil and Colombia should have been a battle of South American superpowers, the meeting of two young superstars in Brazil’s Neymar and Colombia’s James Rodriguez—anything but the halting, foul-ridden exercise it became.

The ugliest moment was watching Neymar—the skilled, slight forward carrying his country’s hopes on his narrow shoulders—sob as he was stretchered off the field after taking a knee to the back. We now know he fractured a vertebrae and won’t play again in this World Cup, but at the time the play, which was certainly a foul, looked no worse than any of the 54 other fouls committed in the rough-and-tumble match.

The scoring opened early, suggesting the offensive exhibition that could have been, when Brazilian captain Thiago Silva snuck behind the defence on a corner kick and redirected the ball into the goal. Colombia’s defenders looked bewildered, not sure where Silva came from, but sure that they already had a deficit to overcome after fewer than seven minutes of play. Silva later received a yellow card, his second of the tournament, rendering him ineligible to play in Brazil’s semifinal match.

David Luiz, a surprise free kick taker in place of Neymar, launched his second goal of the tournament from well outside the area in the 69th minute. Colombia regained their footing after Brazilian keeper Julio Cesar took the legs out from under Carlos Bacca—earning Cesar a yellow card and Colombia a penalty kick—when Rodriguez scored his tournament-leading sixth goal. But it was too little, too late for the Colombians, who fell 2-1 to the host squad. 

Missing star Neymar and captain Thiago Silva, Brazil will have their work cut out for them in the semifinal match against Germany on Tuesday.

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Drew Berner

Drew Berner is a freelance writer born and raised in Toronto and specializing in entertainment, sports and politics. He occasionally collects vinyl records, enjoys hate-watching the Blue Jays, appreciates good beer and great scotch, and goes to sleep each night with 120 lbs. of Great Dane draped over him (it’s a lot more comfortable than it sounds). Follow him on Twitter @DrewBerner for photos of huge dogs, observational humour and assorted sports rage.

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