After what had been a pulsating group stage and a lower scoring but still quality last 16, the quarter finals disappointed hugely. Gone were the gung ho tactics of the groups and gone were the tight quality matches of the last 16 and what replaced it was boring tactical matchups where the teams which were beginning to be out of their depth barely showed up at all.
It was good to see Germany going back to a more sensible set up; a more traditional back four with Lahm slotting into right back and the painfully slow Mertesacker dropping out paid huge dividends for Germany. It wasn’t a traditional performance for this German team which tends to be quite exciting but it was a traditional performance of a German team, organised and ruthless. It is hard to see a team beating Germany if they sit and play like this; yes it isn’t the most exciting tactic but is incredibly effective and they are more than capable of executing it very well.
France will be disappointed with their performance in this game, they just didn’t show up. The Germans played for the 1-0 but it isn’t like the French were battering their goal towards the end of the game, quite the opposite actually. I thought Germany would win but it would be an open game and if France had better quality in the final third then it could have been that. They’ll be disappointed that they have gone out with such a limp display.
The game was pretty poor; it was sort of end to end but without any chances actually being created which was quite unusual. It seemed that both teams got lost in the final third and weren’t willing to take a chance or maybe didn’t possess the quality to do so. Very poor for a game which on paper looked like a great matchup.
Brazil won the game and good for them, it is good to see the host make it to the latter stages of the competition but how poor is this Brazil team? I can’t believe that I watched a game in which Brazil (the country of flair and silky attacking football) used a tactic which was essentially let’s kick our opponents off the pitch. This isn’t the Brazil I grew up watching, this isn’t the Brazil that everyone loves and this isn’t a Brazil I want to see win the World Cup. Once again in this tournament the Brazilians can thank a referee for gifting them a game, how many blatant bookings can a referee turn down before it becomes a farce? Quite a lot apparently. Brazil stagnated their opponent and kicked them off the pitch as well, ironically they then had the audacity to complain when Colombia started putting in some heavy fouls is recompense. The game came at a price for Brazil with Thiago Silva being suspended for the semis and Neymar breaking a bone in his back, maybe it sounds harsh but maybe this was a touch of karma for how they played this game.
Poor Colombia have been the best team of the tournament up to the quarters and they then ended up putting in their worst performance to date. They really weren’t helped by the refereeing which was disgraceful but they struggled to create chances against a poor Brazilian defence and that is inexcusable. Colombia will be proud of their performance in this World Cup, they have progressed further than they ever have before and have played great football in doing so. However as is the way of things they will surely be a little disappointed with not beating a Brazil team which was there for the taking.
This was easily the best game of the quarters, despite the fact that the referee did his best to ruin it. You can’t help but wonder if the result would have been different if we had seen a better and stronger referee in charge, but you could sit asking ifs buts and maybes for so many things.
I’m still waiting to see this great Argentina team that I was expecting, this again was one of those games where they have just done enough. Yes they won and really won comfortably in the end despite the score being only 1-0 but with so much attacking talent on display I expected more. I thought that Belgium would stagnate Argentina but in fact it was the other way around as Argentina put in a good workman performance. Argentina have been much better defensively than I expected but I’m not sure if that is due to the opposition they have played or them actually being defensively acute. Argentina will be worried that the injuries are starting to mount up, with both Aguero and Di Maria out for the rest of the tournament, probably their two best players after Messi.
Quarter finals is pretty good for Belgium but they will feel disappointed with how they played in this match. Not until the death did it really look like they may score, and they looked inept from open play. When you look at the team sheet it is hard to see why Belgium would struggle so much because there is a lot of talent there, but they have lacked creativity in this World Cup and a large part of that is their creative players not showing up (in particular Hazard).
Another fairly poor game where the favourites went out and held onto a lead with the less favoured side being unable to create any chances to put the favoured side under any pressure at all.
If there was one game I didn’t expect to go to extra time it was this one, what happened to the Holland team that battered Spain 5-1? They struggled against Mexico and they struggled again against Costa Rica. Don’t get me wrong how many opportunities did Holland have that they didn’t take? Quite a lot and if they had taken them then obviously it would have been a much different game. Obviously the big talking point from the game was Van Gaal switching goalkeepers right before the penalty shootout which seemed like a very odd decision but when you then go on and win and the keeper you brought on performs as he did then you are a genius. If Costa Rica had won the game then it would be hard to not question why the manager thought it was good idea to waste a sub when an attacking player off the bench could have won it for you in extra time.
Who would have thought that Costa Rica would not only make it to the quarter finals but then take it to penalties as well. They didn’t really deserve to go through because they were totally outplayed but Costa Rica will look back at this World Cup with incredibly fond memories, they are the little train who could and incredibly went the whole tournament without actually losing in 90 or 120 minutes, quite an achievement.
The game itself wasn’t really very good but the last 10-15 minutes of regular time and in particular extra time were both exhilarating. It would have been nice to see that kind of attacking efforts and display earlier in the match but there you go.
The quarters were pretty poor quality but in the end we got the four teams who most deserved to go through which isn’t so bad. Again much like the last 16, the quarter finals saw the four favourites go through and we didn’t see any shocks again. It has been an odd World Cup and here’s hoping that the semi (which look excellent on paper) live up to their potential rather than following the downward trend that we’ve seen the group stages.
So what did you think of the quarter finals stage of this World Cup? Are you disappointed with how Brazil are playing? Did you think that we got the four most deserving teams in the semi-finals? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.