Much like when the Selecao were faced with the prospect of keeping Dutch legend Johann Cruyff under wraps in 1974, the host nation decided once again that the best approach for dealing with a star player was a physical one. Much of the build-up to the South American quarter-final was focused on the two number 10’s, with Colombia’s James Rodriguez arguably outshining the darling of Brazilian football, Neymar. The Monaco forward had very little opportunity to add to his five goals and four assists at this tournament, due to the simple fact that he was swarmed on by two or three yellow shirts and kicked lumps out of. Two noteworthy moments saw Rodriguez at the centre point of his country’s attack, firstly steaming past Paulinho, David Luiz and Oscar to send Juan Cuardrado through three-on-one, before he coolly stepped up to sweep home an 80th-minute penalty. However, the Brazilian midfield made sure his contributions were limited, and Fernandinho, in particular, made sure his presence was known.
Were it not for the simple fact that Brazil were playing in a World Cup quarter-final against Colombia in their own country as the host, you might be inclined to think the fans would be less accepting of the performance on show. After a breathtaking end-to-end start, Brazil could have had three or four goals to add to their seventh-minute strike. Instead, the game petered out slowly and became a staggered, spluttering affair which really should have produced more bookings than was the case. Mislaid passes, copious fouls and simulation replaced the flair, tempo and panache that should be synonymous with the hosts, as pre-match criticisms of Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side were somewhat justified. It took two set-pieces to secure the victory, but supporters will point to similarities between the Brazilians and Louis van Gaal’s Holland, compromising on an ideology in order to gain results. Two more wins and that mindset will be vindicated, and the fans’ eternal optimism will certainly help.
Brazil’s defence has left much to be desired thus far in the World Cup, but their two centre-halves provided telling attacking contributions against Colombia as they took the game by the scruff of the neck. Thiago Silva’s early goal ricocheted off his knee and into the net as the captain showed his experience in turning balls home. But goal and performance of the night has to go to Silva’s defensive partner Luiz. Paris Saint-Germain’s latest signing stepped up to a 30 yard freekick just after the hour mark, and planted it side-footed straight into the top corner of the net. It was Drogba-esque in its execution, as the ball flew straight and true, and Luiz’s celebration was a reciprocation of the relief amongst the crowd. Silva’s petulance in kicking the ball away at the game’s lowest period means he’ll miss the semi-final against Germany, so Luiz will likely be partnered with the equally hairy but less qualified Dante. Against such oppressive opponents at the Germans, Silva’s suspension could prove the biggest stumbling block yet.
MORE: Man United latest news
MORE: Arsenal latest news
MORE: Chelsea latest news
MORE: Liverpool latest news