Saturday, July 5, 2014

World Cup 2014 QF : Brazil vs Colombia 2-1

The pre match predictions by most football pundits were that this Colombian team would pip a struggling Brazil in the QF match.....& there seemed to be plenty on reasons for them to say so. The Colombian til now had been close to being phenomenal...they had won all their matches till now with ease, including Uruguay, whom they had blown away in the round of 16. The team had no pressures of expectations & were playing free flowing football. In contrast their more superior opponents, host Brazil had yet not found their customary rhythm....it was only in patches & had scraped through in round of 16 against Chile via penalties.

But Big Phil, Scolari, coach of Brazil, had very specific strategies in mind.....& his team followed that to near perfection today, as Brazil looked like a well oiled machine...a team for the first time & ended clear winners 2-1 to romp into the semifinals. Colombia, ended their brilliant run & will be going home, heads held high.
Scolari made a tactical change in the opening line up, bringing in burly Maicon in place of Dani Alves & Paulhino was in for the suspended Gustavo. The team looked well knit & eager from the word go & Neymar was scorching immediately. After a free kick that looped dangerously past the goal post, Neymar earned a corner & his immaculate kick into the box beat almost every jumping head before an unmarked Thiaggo Silva coolly placed the ball into an empty net. The stadium erupted in a thunder as Brazil went up 1-0. The game got underway in frenetic pace as both teams tried to stamp their domination, however, Brazil looked far more assured & in control. In the midfield, Fernandinho ensured that Colombian mercurial midfielder & playmaker James Rodriguez was kept in check, by any means...fair or unfair & the Colombian, who had marveled the world over the past fortnight with his scoring abilities, looked truly cowered & helpless for the first time. Maicon, meanwhile was stamping his authority with bulldozing runs down the right flank as well as burly clearances while defending, leaving the Colombian forward line quite listless.
Hulk took over the task of Brazilian attack & was scathing in his runs....in fact goalkeeper Ospina was brilliant in depriving sure goals twice as Hulk unleashed his left footers... Brazil was unfortunate not to go up at least by one more goal, as the Spanish referee blew the half time whistle.
Second half was no different as Brazil continued to dominate possession. Captain Silva was unnecessarily booked as he collided into Colombian goalkeeper & blocked Ospina's attempted clearance. Neymar meanwhile earned a free kick as as frustrated Rodriguez brought him down midway into the Colombian half. David Luiz took the kick & what a fantastic kick it was.....looping high & past the diving Ospina into the far end of the net....it was Brazilian poetry in motion indeed. Brazil 2-0 up  with just about 20 minutes left to full time. It was most certainly Selcao football...the beautiful game called Joga Bonito, as Colombians looked scrambled out of the game. In between, they did put the ball in the Brazilian goal through a goal mouth melee, but the linesman had already raised the offside flag. There was a brief twist to the tale, as substitute Bacca broke into the Brazilian box as as David Luiz was clearing the danger, Julio Cesar brought him down & penalty was awarded. James Rodriguez fittingly wrong footed Cesar to bring down the margin 2-1, taking his tally of goal to 6 & Colombians had a fresh leash of life. But the game ended with same scoreline as Brazil finally prevailed 2-1 to reach the semis.
Towards the closing minutes of the game, an ugly tackle by Juniga in the Brazilian half, brought Neymar down....it was really a very ugly tackle as the stocky Colombian climbed onto the frail Brazilian who was turning with the ball, crashed his knee into the spine & pushed him hard into the ground with his hand.....certainly a red card. But the Spanish referee, Velasco Carballo, who had probably forgotten his cards in the dressing room gave nothing. The match had produced more than 50 fouls & yet the ref did not flash cards or speak to the offending players with authority, to control the game. Neymar had to be carried off in a stretcher & the news streaming in says, he is out for four weeks with a broken vertebrae. FIFA needs to take action against such fouls & the players need to be suitably reprimanded, if we have to save this beautiful game.
A sad & telling blow to Scolari's gameplan ahead & Brazilian hopes, but more than that football suffered as the talisman striker has been taken out. In fact two No 10 jerseys ended their world cup campaign today....Rodriguez for Colombia in defeat & Neymar for Brazil in injury. A stupendous win for Brazil, but at a huge cost.

Its going to be Brazil vs Germany in the semis. A humdinger of a match for sure. It will be the Brazilian attacking flair against an extremely organised German defense. Brazil will most certainly miss Neymar & T Silva & that makes Germans a shade favourite, but then its semifinals & the home crowd will be raucous in support to lift the spirits of Joga Bonito.... Can the Selecao believe in themselves.... can Hulk & Oscar & Fred finally find their goal scoring boots..... the defense & midfield is gradually falling into place & now they need to score at will......well probing questions indeed... lets all wait in anticipation for tuesday night....



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