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Dublin: 6°C Saturday 5 December 2020


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WE ALREADY KNOW one of the final four after Germany’s narrow win over the French earlier on. Can the hosts join them in the semis? Or will their fellow South Americans pull off a shock?

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Good evening (again). Eoin O’Callaghan with you for what promises to be a really intriguing game between two teams that have had pretty polarising tournaments so far. The hosts have flattered to deceive, clearly have major weak points but are just two games from a final. Colombia, inspired by the mercurial James Rodriguez, have been a breath of fresh air. Anyway, lets park the analysis for the moment because…the teams are in.

Brazil: Julio Cesar, Thiago Silva (c), David Luiz, Fernandinho, Marcelo, Hulk, Paulinho, Fred, Neymar, Oscar, Maicon

Colombia: Ospina, Zapata, Yepes (c), Sanchez, Armero, Gutierrez, Rodriguez, Cuadrado, Guarin, Ibarbo, Zuniga

So, the big news is that Dani Alves has been dropped and Maicon comes in for his first appearance of the tournament. Luis Gustavo is suspended for this after picking up that yellow against Chile so Tottenham’s Paulinho replaces him.

For the Colombians, there are two changes from the side that beat Uruguay. Midfielders Victor Ibarbo and Fredy Guarin come in for Abel Aguilar and Jackson Martinez.

Some stats for you pre-game.

Historically, Brazil are a bogey team for Colombia. In 25 meetings, they’ve won just two. But, they have racked up eight draws. Is that an indicator that there will be extra-time and penalties? Will Julio Cesar be the hero again? What are your thoughts?

Colombia are massively over-achieving at this tournament. They have won all four of their  games so far. In all four of their previous World Cups, they had won a combined total of three matches. Bit of an improvement.

A quick glance at the comments tells me we’re pretty divided about the way we want this to go. After a pretty tame game earlier between France and Germany, this promises to be a thriller.


3 mins – Good early pressing from Brazil high in the Colombian area. Rodriguez has already pinged a superb ball wide right with the outside of his boot but the hosts responded and after intercepting, they’ve got a free-kick about 35 yards out…

…and it’s pretty harmless. He got it over the wall but it was always drifting wide of the near post.

7 mins – GOAL! Thiago Silva!

Germany scored early from a set-piece and now Brazil have do it here. From Neymar’s in-swinging corner, it misses Fred and Luiz at the near post bounces across the six-yard area and Thiago Silva is allowed attack the ball and he diverts it to the net, using the inside of his knee. Sanchez losses him and just doesn’t react to Silva’s run. Colombia in trouble early on now.

11 mins – CLOSE! Colombia look for an instant response and Cuadrado, who has had a great tournament, makes the most of Brazil’s inability to properly clear. On the edge of the box, he jinks inside onto his left and fires in a low shot that takes a slight touch on its way and narrowly misses the near post, finishing up in the side-netting. Good effort though.

Early indication from Fernandinho that Rodriguez might have a tough evening. The midfielder goes right through the playmaker and concedes the free-kick. Hardly this though, in fairness.

Source: Chimpanzeethat/YouTube

17 mins – CLOSE! Neymar’s corner from the right isn’t properly cleared and Hulk shows nice feet in the area to evade a challenge. The touch brings him a little too wide so he sends it across the area, looking for David Luiz but some desperate Colombian defending gets it clear.

Here’s the goal, by the way. Very lax defending but it’s a great delivery. Whipped in with pace into a really dangerous area.

20 mins – CLOSE! Well, Brazil have started this superbly. Colombia just can’t get in their stride and are trying to repel wave after wave of Brazilian attacks. This time, Hulk plays a delightful one-two with Neymar and thumps a shot goalwards that Ospina parries. Oscar picks up the rebound and tries his luck but the keeper is there to make a decent stop to his right.

22 mins – CLOSE! Colombia break away frenetically and they’ve got a man advantage. Rodriguez feeds it wide for Cuadrado who can’t get a shot in or a pass across the area to a tema-mate because Thiago Silva closes him down and makes the challenge. This is so open! It’s terrific stuff and we’ve only played a quarter of the game.

28 mins – CLOSE! In the battle between Hulk and Ospina, it’s the keeper on top right now. Brazil break down the left again (Colombia really need to sort that out). Marcelo plays it inside to the formidable front-man who thumps it low, trying to send it across goal. But Ospina gets down and makes an excellent save.

This is a very different Brazilian side. They’ve been superb from the opening whistle. David Luiz has just gone on a marauding run down the right side, brushing off about seventeen Colombian challenges and refusing to go down. It’s a metaphor for the opening period, really. Brazil have just been relentless.

37 mins - Colombia are awarded a free-kick in a really dangerous position, right on the edge of the Brazilian box and very central. Rodriguez spends an age sizing it up and as he shoots, Neymar rushes forward to block. There’s no way he’s the requisite distance back but the referee waves play on. Colombians should feel hard done by there.

43 mins – CLOSE! This time it’s a Brazil free-kick in a dangerous position, slightly to the left of the area. Neymar takes it and whips it towards the far corner but it’s just too high. Good hit but needed to be about five or six inches lower.

HALF-TIME! Let’s take a breather, shall we? That was intense. Brazil have been full of energy and their high-pressing early on gave them a foothold. Getting the goal soon after was the perfect start. But for a Scolari team, they’re incredibly open. What has helped is Colombia’s similar strategy and as the half wore on, they started to leave gaps in key areas, usually with Neymar picking it up centrally forty yards from goal and allowed space to create.

Rodriguez has been marshalled by Fernandinho but how the Brazilian has escaped without getting a yellow card is beyond me.

Rodriguez had little impact in the opening period but this is reminiscent of Maradona ’86 against England. Leaves Fernandinho for dead.

46 mins – SUBSTITUTION! Ramos (on) – Ibarbo (off)

We’re back underway, by the way!

Early on, the second half is resembling the first. Rodriguez is still being kicked around.

Interestingly, the brilliant Tim Vickery (Brazilian football expert) has been speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live and said the following:

“While it is 1-0 there is a still a chance for Colombia. But I have seen Brazil in the past control a game through tactical fouling. The referee has seemingly given them carte blanche to do that.”

59 mins – CLOSE! Well, we’ve managed to get a brief respite from the persistent fouling and Colombia create a chance. Armero does exceptionally well to keep in a ball on the left side and he scoops a superb cross to the edge of the area. Rodriguez flicks it on to Guarin but the volley is too high. Magnificent from Armero though.

64 mins – This could be an important development. We’ve finally got our first booking of the evening and it’s gone to the goalscorer, Thiago Silva after he challenges Ospina as he’s trying to clear the ball. He’ll now miss Brazil’s semi-final, should they get there.

69 mins – GOAL! David Luiz!

Well, that’s that. Brazil get a free-kick in a great position after James Rodriguez takes down Hulk. The youngster also gets a booking and he stands in front of the referee and reels off all of the times he was fouled with his assailant getting away with it.

Regardless, Luiz sizes it up and thumps an absolute screamer to the far corner. He opens his foot up when he strikes it in that most unorthodox way and though Ospina gets close, it’s got too much pace and carries to the net.

73 mins – CLOSE! Neymar picks it up in the right channel and cuts inside onto his left and looks to curl it to the far corner. He doesn’t miss by much.

78 mins – PENALTY! What a chance for Colombia here. Great interplay as they push towards the Brazilian box. Rodriguez slips in Bacca who’s taken down by Cesar. Rodriguez to take…

 80 mins – GOAL! Rodriguez!

A 6th goal of the tournament for the playmaker. He sends Cesar the wrong way, going to his un-natural side, opening his foot out and pushing it to the goalkeeper’s right.

80 mins – SUBSTITUTION! Quintero (on) – Cuadrado (off)

83 mins – SUBSTITUTION! Ramires (on) – Hulk (off)

What a finale! Colombia hungry now! They’ve forced a few set-pieces and they have another corner on the way…

86 mins – SUBSTITUTION! Hernanes (on) – Paulinho (off)

This could prove the game-winner. Great pic.

Soccer - FIFA World Cup 2014 - Quarter Final - Brazil v Colombia - Estadio Castelao Source: Mike Egerton/PA Wire/Press Association Images

88 mins – SUBSTITUTION! Henrique (on) – Neymar (off)

Neymar has been carried off on a stretcher. Zuniga thumps him hard in the back and he’s in obvious discomfort. Brazilian players, coaching staff and fans are all saying a novena as we speak.

Deep into injury-time here. Brazil just desperately trying to get over the line.

94 mins - Colombia get a free-kick wide on the right. Ospina makes the long run up-field but it’s a poor delivery and it comes to nothing. That was the last chance, I’d say. Opportunity squandered.

FULL-TIME! That’s it. Brazil are through to face Germany after a gritty, physical game. The referee left a lot of stuff go. And James Rodriguez certainly wasn’t protected. But, it was winning ugly. And Scolari’s 2002 World Cup-winning side weren’t the prettiest either. They had three immensely talented attackers and two terrific wing-backs but the rest of the side were filler, there to play a role. And the team were crowned champions. This Brazil side aren’t making many friends at this tournament but they’re now just ninety minutes from a final. It’s pragmatism, certainly not romanticism.

For Colombia, they’ve been great. They rallied late on and with some more discipline and awareness, they probably could’ve forced more clear-cut chances in the dying minutes. Rodriguez was in tears at the full-time whistle but he’s been a true star and with six goals in his first World Cup, he can feel incredibly proud.

Thanks for staying with us. More reaction and analysis to come.

About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan