Search

World Cup Blog: Not a bad final four

07:00 08 July 2014

Brazil

Brazil's David Luiz celebrates victory in the quarter finals against Colombia (pic; Mike Egerton/EMPICS)

PA Wire/Press Association Images

A quick look at the semi-finals

Germany's Mesut Ozil (pic: Adam Davy/EMPICS)Germany's Mesut Ozil (pic: Adam Davy/EMPICS)

And then there were four.

After 25 days and 60 matches the 2014 World Cup is down to its last four: the semi-finalists and last four fixtures of this vibrant tournament.

England’s early elimination may have led to some apathy among the armchair public in this country (guilty your honour), but there has been no shortage of drama in their absence.

That trend continued in the quarter-finals, as Germany’s efficient 1-0 win over France in the first of the four last-eight ties.

Argentina's Lionel Messi has netted four times so far at the World Cup (pic: Adam Davy/EMPICS)Argentina's Lionel Messi has netted four times so far at the World Cup (pic: Adam Davy/EMPICS)

Most of the pre-match talk had been about an infamous 1982 meeting, when German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher’s brutal challenge left Patrick Battiston unconscious in Spain before his side won a penalty shoot-out.

The Germans had Manuel Neuer to thank this time for a fine late save from Karim Benzema, as an early header from Mats Hummels proved enough to down Didier Deschamps’ side.

Then came the hosts as Brazil moved 2-0 up against Colombia thanks to goals of some contrast either side of the break from defenders Thiago Silva, who bundled home an early opener, and David Luiz, who smashed a free-kick into the top corner.

The Colombians hit back from the penalty spot through James Rodriguez, who could yet finish with the Golden Boot thanks to his six goals in five matches, but Brazil held on despite losing wunderkind Neymar to a back injury that has sadly ended his involvement in this event.

Netherlands players celebrate winning their quarter-final penalty shoot-out against Costa Rica (pic: Nick Potts/EMPICS)Netherlands players celebrate winning their quarter-final penalty shoot-out against Costa Rica (pic: Nick Potts/EMPICS)

Quarter-final three pitted Argentina against dark horses Belgium, when another early goal proved enough.

Gonzalo Higuain’s stunning eighth-minute strike left the Europeans chasing the game but they made little impact in truth.

In fact, the Belgians could have been 3-0 down by the time Axel Witsel fired an injury-time chance over, as Higuain hit the crossbar and Lionel Messi scampered clear only to be denied by Thibaut Courtois.

The Netherlands completed the set with a shoot-out win over plucky Costa Rica, after their tie ended goalless.

But only after Louis van Gaal had sent Newcastle keeper Tim Krul on in the closing seconds of extra time to face the spot-kicks instead of Jasper Cillessen.

Krul kept out two efforts from Brian Ruiz and Michael Umana to earn the plaudits, but it was no more than the Dutch deserved after hitting the woodwork three times on the night.

But now what?

The ‘dream’ final of Brazil v Argentina remains a possibility, but is far from a formality.

Luis Felipe Scolari’s side, for all their spine-tingling spirit during emotional national anthems and brief moments of wonder, have attracted a fair amount of criticism thus far.

Without the talismanic Neymar, one cannot help but wonder where the creative spark is going to come from.

Maybe it is time for Oscar to step forward, but with Thiago Silva suspended for tonight’s clash with the Germans the hosts look even more vulnerable at the back.

Joachim Low’s Germans are nothing if not highly organised and have been waiting for the mercurial Mesut Ozil to truly make his mark. Why not in Belo Horizonte?

Tomorrow’s clash between Argentina and the Netherland immediately brings images of Mario Kempes and the 1978 final to mind, along with Dennis Bergkamp’s stunner for the Dutch in 1998.

Messi has lived up to the hype to date, but if the Dutch can deny the supply line to the Barcelona no.10, they have enough weapons in their armoury in Robin van Persie, Welsey Snejder and Arjen Robben – if he can stay on his feet long enough – to do damage at the other end.

What odds on an all-European Germany v Netherlands final, 40 years on from their meeting in the 1974 final in Munich?

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Barking and Dagenham Post visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Barking and Dagenham Post staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Barking and Dagenham Post account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Barking and Dagenham Sports News

Yesterday, 13:17
The England team celebrate after winning the Rugby Under-20 World Cup Final at the AJ Bell Stadium (pic: PA)

England 45 Ireland 21

Saturday, June 25, 2016
Ravi Bopara makes a run for Essex Eagles (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Bopara’s men beat the rain to make it back-to-back wins

Saturday, June 25, 2016
Leopards coach Steve Ogunjimi (pic; Paul Phillips)

Big Cats to host Ipswich, Chelmsford or Essex Blades

Saturday, June 25, 2016
Ashar Zaidi in batting action (pic: Graham Hodges)

All-rounder’s half-century leads way in successful chase

Friday, June 24, 2016
Dagenham & Redbridge coach Darren Currie (right) in conversation with boss John Still (pic: David Simpson/TGS Photo)

Daggers coach confident knew additions will hit ground running and hopes for home opening fixture

Friday, June 24, 2016
Lee Goodwin (centre) with his former Dagenham & Redbridge team mates at the Luton Town match last season (pic: David Simpson/TGS Photo)

Daggers legend putting together a consortium with view to making offer for Victoria Road outfit

Friday, June 24, 2016
West Ham captain Mark Noble (inside, right) cuts the ribbon at the new Stadium Store alongside Josh Cullen (far, right) and young goalkeeper Sam Howes (far, left) (pic: WHUFC).

Canning Town boy full of praise for boss Slaven Bilic who has impressed as a pundit for ITV during the Euro’s

Thursday, June 23, 2016
Edward Kennett of Lakeside Hammers (pic: Rob Newell/TGSPHOTO)

Elite League: Swindon 52 Lakeside Hammers 41

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

£15k prize bundle

Imagine having the opportunity to win an incredible £15,000 bundle of some of the most amazing prizes available. Well, for one lucky contest entrant that dream could soon become a reality because we at MyOffers are offering an incredible free prize bundle that will make even the most hardened person wild with excitement.

Win a BMW 1 series

There are fewer cars currently on the market more stylish and exciting than the BMW. Known all over the world as one of the best car manufacturers, the BMW is renowned for sleek designs and fantastic high quality workmanship.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Barking and Dagenham Post
e-edition today

Subscribe