World Cup 2014: Quarter Finals Day 2

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Yesterday’s 2014 World Cup Quarter Final matches saw Brazil and Germany advance to the semi-finals, sending France and Columbia home. They will meet each other on Tuesday July 8. The match between Brazil and Columbia was more rough and tumble than the statistics showed, with the referees failing to control the game. As a result, Brazil lost a key player, Neymar, when in the 87th minute of play, a Colombian player, Juan Camilo Zuniga, planted his knee in Neymar’s back fracturing a vertebrae. The penalty? None. Columbia was not the only side playing very rough, so was Brazil and the referees did little to stop it.

So what happened to Neymar? How did the face of this tournament end up in a hospital? Brazilian fans will not like to hear it, but while Zuniga was directly responsible for causing Neymar’s injury, Neymar’s teammates – specifically Fernandinho, though there were others – as well as the referee, Carlos Velasco Carballo, deserve their share of the blame, too. They did not commit the crime, but they contributed to an environment of lawlessness that led to Neymar being battered.

If that sounds harsh, consider that Brazil’s coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, made a point of saying before the game that there was no historical rivalry between Brazil and Colombia and that games between the teams are “friendly matches.” Thiago Silva, the captain, said that playing against Colombia’s considerable skill players would make for a cleaner, more fluid game.

Yet from the first minute it appeared that Brazil was determined to play the game cynically, tripping and pushing and kicking at Colombia’s players, especially James Rodriguez, the team’s wunderkind scorer. Colombia, on the other hand, seemed almost deferential at first. When Neymar went off on a spirited run six minutes into the game, the Colombian defenders did little to try to knock him off stride, let alone scythe him to the ground as previous opponents had done. He ran freely.

When Rodriguez went to claim the ball a few minutes later, however, Brazil’s Oscar ran right into Rodriguez’s back as if to make clear to the Colombian that no space on the Fortaleza field would be a safe space. Rodriguez’s teammates were understandably upset, but there was no retaliation – the feeling of violence in the game, especially early on, came almost exclusively from Brazil.

Two minutes after Oscar’s foul, Marcelo blasted the Colombian midfielder Juan Cuadrado. Three minutes after that, Fernandinho, a midfielder who often plays with an edge, slammed into Rodriguez again. Velasco Carballo blew his whistle and called a foul but did not show Fernandinho a yellow card.

And on and on it went to the end. There was a lot of media criticism, heaped mostly on the referees, and rightfully so. Hopefully this isn’t a harbinger of the game on Tuesday or today’s matches.

Speaking of today’ matches for the second day of the 2014 Quarter Finals, first up at Noon EDT is Argentina and Belgium, who are pretty evenly matched as far as player strength and scoring goes. All of their previous games were missing the drama of yellow and red cards.

Costa Rica is considered the underdog in its match against the Netherlands, whose players are considered bullies, especially their star, Arjen Robben, known for his foul creating theatrics.

ABC and ESPN are juggling the matches with the tennis world’s Wimbledon Women’s and Men’s Finals. The Argentina – Belgium match is being shown on ABC with coverage starting at 11:30 and the game beginning at Noon. ESPN takes over for the Costa Rica – Netherlands game starting at 3:30 with kick-off at 4 PM. All times EDT.


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    The sports pundits think that Belgium has the advantage over Argentina. According to the NYT’s this is what to watch:

    Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens are both dangerous players for Belgium, with Hazard in particular very capable of matching Messi’s brilliance. Argentina’s Ángel di María is himself one of the best wingers in the world, and he scored the winner against Switzerland in the Round of 16 – on a beautiful pass from Messi.

    Belgium has a clear advantage at the back. Argentina’s defense has looked shaky and will not feature Marco Rojo because of a double yellow card suspension. Belgium’s defense isn’t rock-solid – it lacks natural fullbacks and speed in the middle – but it is anchored by the superb Vincent Kompany and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, something of a human SpiderMan.

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    Belgium goal keep in green and Argentina wearing black.

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    that garners a free kick by Argentina

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    Only 1 shot on goal as opposed to 26 in the USA game

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    This Argentina’s first trip to the Semifinal in 26 years

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    From the NYT live blog:

    Costa Rica is one game away from the World Cup semifinals. Los Ticos, representing a country of fewer than 5 million people, have been the surprise of the tournament, taking down former champions Uruguay and Italy and then scraping past Greece in a Round of 16 penalty shootout to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in the country’s history.

    The Dutch bring much more experience to this match, following their run to the World Cup final four years ago. That final was a heartbreaker for Arjen Robben, the Netherlands’ star winger, who missed a breakaway that would likely have given his country its first championship.

    Robben has been more determined than ever in Brazil. Through the first four games, he has played as well as anyone in the tournament (perhaps aside from a certain Lionel Messi). He has terrorized defenses, scoring three goals, adding an assist, and winning the controversial, late penalty kick that allowed the Netherlands to squeak past Mexico in their last game.

    It will be crucial for Costa Rica to contain Robben if they have designs on advancing further in this tournament because if Robben gets space to run at defenders, it could be a long afternoon for Los Ticos. Robin van Persie will also be a constant threat, while Memphis Depay has been dangerous for the Dutch coming off the bench.

    Where the Netherlands may be vulnerable is in the back. They have conceded at least one goal in three of their four games, and will now be missing Nigel de Jong, their key defensive midfielder, who is out for the rest of the tournament with a groin muscle injury.

    Since their first match of the tournament, when the Netherlands demolished the defending champions 5-1, Dutch fans have started be believe maybe this is the year they can finally claim that elusive title, after three losses in the final.

    But as four previous opponents can attest, Costa Rica is a dangerous team. Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz, Costa Rica’s captain, have provided the goals for Los Ticos, and Ruiz has said the team is not satisfied with this fairy tale run yet. They want the semifinal.

    Meanwhile, goalkeeper Keylor Navas has been standing on his head, making several crucial saves against Greece (including in the shootout) to send Costa Rica to the quarterfinal.

    Should be another great game. I’m joined by Lynn Zinser, who will be bringing us tweets, photos, and other digital goodies. Stay with us.

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    The Dutch keeper in light green; Cost Rica in light blue

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    Costa Rica beat Greece in penalty kicks. How good are the Dutch?

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