WORLD CUP DIARY: 2 July

WORLD CUP DIARY: 2 July

After Friday’s unwelcome break from World Cup action, we have since been treated to a succession of fine matches in the Second Round.

As part of Owls Alive’s series of reviews, today we look back at the round of 16 in its entirety and preview the Quarter Finals.

This brilliant festival will soon reach an end: but not before we are treated to more exhilarating action.

 

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SATURDAY: BRAZIL 1-1 CHILE (AET, BRAZIL WIN 3-2 ON PENALTIES); COLOMBIA 2-0 URUGUAY

The knockout stages kicked off with the most dramatic of victories for hosts Brazil, as they edged out Chile on penalties.

Alexis Sanchez equalised on the half hour, taking advantage of some horror defending, after Brazil had gone ahead through a Gonzalo Jara own goal (I don’t care what FIFA said, David Luiz didn’t score).

Mauricio Pinilla struck the crossbar in the depths of extra time injury time and Jara hit the post with the final penalty to send a country wild with joy…and relief!

Colombia set up a mouth-watering match against Brazil as the brilliant James Rodriguez struck twice to ease them through against the biting-apologists, Uruguay.

Rodriguez’ first half screamer will surely be goal of the tournament and his second, just after half time, was equally beautiful as it ended a wonderful team move.

james_rodriguez_colombia_goal_against_uruguay-140230

 Creg

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SUNDAY: NETHERLANDS 2-1 MEXICO; COSTA RICA 1-1 GREECE (AET, COSTA RICA WIN 5-3 ON PENALTIES)

Mexico manager Miguel Herrera, one of the stars of the tournament from the touchline, called Arjen Robben a cheat as Holland snuck through in the blazing heat of Fortaleza.

Giovani dos Santos looked to have scored the winner for the Mexicans but Wesley Sneijder finally found a way past Guillermo Ochoa in the 88th minute.

With extra time looming, Arjen Robben took a dive, although it was probably a penalty anyway, and Klaas-Jan Hunterlaar made no mistake from the spot to save the Dutch.

Celso Borges and Junior Diaz celebrate

Celso Borges and Junior Diaz celebrate

They will face Costa Rica, who fired in five perfect penalties to overcome a stubborn Greece.

Again there was late drama as Sokratis Papastathopoulos equalised in injury time after Brian Luiz had put Costa Rica ahead, but they couldn’t force an extra time winner against ten men.

Creg

 

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MONDAY: FRANCE 2-0 NIGERIA, GERMANY 2-1 ALGERIA (AET)

Pogba celebrates putting France ahead

Pogba celebrates putting France ahead

Both remaining European heavyweights enjoyed less-than-comfortable passage into the last eight on Monday evening, both overcoming African opponents.

The French, perhaps the most impressive European side thus far, relied on two late goals to get past a lively Nigeria side in Brasilia. Pogba, featured in the Owls Alive World Cup Youngsters XI, nodded home in the 79th minute before a Joseph Yobo own-goal sealed victory for Les Bleus.

Nigeria, featuring the lively Emmanuel Emenike and encouraged by the heroics of goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, made a good job of stretching France, but the introduction of Griezmann gave France an added injection, the breakthrough coming from Juventus midfielder Pogba who headed into an empty net. As Nigeria pushed for the equaliser, Yobo knocked Valbuena’s cross past his own goalkeeper to seal progression for the French.

In the later kick-off, the Algerians put up another difficult examination of the favoured side, taking the well-fancied Germans into extra time in Porto Alegre.

Algeria spurned a series of chances that would have put them through, and poetically only chalked up a goal after Die Mannschaft moved into a 2-0 lead. Andre Schurrle broke the deadlock in extra time before Mesut Ozil thundered in a second; Algeria set up a lively final few moments with substitute Djabou converted from the impressive Feghouli’s cross. 

Mesut Ozil, a largely absent figure for Germany, ensured their progress with a late strike

Mesut Ozil, a largely absent figure for Germany, ensured their progress with a late strike

 

France and Germany are destined to meet in the semi-finals at the Maracana – USA ’94 remains the only tournament in 30 years that neither will make the semi-finals. Their meeting on Friday ensures that this record will stretch for four more years.

 Hugh

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Di Maria sends Argentina through

Di Maria sends Argentina through

TUESDAY: ARGENTINA 1-0 SWITZERLAND (AET) USA 2-1 BELGIUM (AET)

Two very different normal time 0-0 draws.

Argentina met Switzerland in a rather uninspiring but equally contested match, the Swiss heavy handling of Di Maria and Messi in particular was working a treat while they spurned opportunities at the other end.

The Twitter world was coming down harshly on Angel Di Maria considering the treatment he’d received, Gary Lineker suggesting he looked a different player to his Real Madrid self.  I thought however that Di Maria was a bright link in the otherwise unconvincing Argentine attack.

Extra time, and with less than 3 minutes left it all opened up for Messi, who carried the ball forward towards the retreating Swiss defenders before playing the ball out to Di Maria who slotted the ball into the far corner past Benaglio. Game over.

Belgium met the United States in the late game, and with myself having family in America, I had been cheering the USA on since England’s early exit. The game settled down a bit after the frantic start, the Belgians being the better side, with the first highlight in the form of a pitch invader bearing politicised t-shirts. FIFA cameras were well clear.

Belgium created all of the chances after the break, a goal was looking inevitable but for the wonders of Tim Howard in the US goal, who continued the recent streak of impressive goal-keeping displays.

Tim Howard gave one of the tournaments outstanding individual displays

Tim Howard gave one of the tournaments outstanding individual displays

The Americans would definitely have Howard to thank if they could somehow pull off a victory. Just before it was confirmed that we would be seeing another half an hour of football the USA had the chance to snatch the win with Chris Wandolowski missing a super chance from 6 yards out, it wouldn’t have counted anyway as the linesman (incorrectly) flagged for offside.

More extra time, only on this occasion, we weren’t complaining.

In the third minute, Belgium got the goal that they deserved when Lukaku, on as a substitute, showed excellent power and strength before playing the ball to De Bruyne who did brilliantly to remain composed and slot the ball into the corner and out of reach of Howard. Only the Belgian’s 32nd shot!

Lukaku and De Bruyne teamed up twice to send Belgium through, but only after a thrilling finale!

Lukaku and De Bruyne teamed up twice to send Belgium through, but only after a thrilling finale!

It was soon two as De Bruyne and Lukaku swapped roles, this time De Bruyne providing the assist for Lukaku who smashed the ball past Howard to make it 2-0.

Two minutes into the second half, the Americans were back in it as we saw a truly world class goal from Julian Green who made a super run to get on the end of Michael Bradley’s floated ball – his volley past Courtois set up a wonderful ending to the game, perhaps making this the most enjoyable fixture of the tournament thus far.

The Americans pushed for an equaliser with Jermaine Jones narrowly missing a great chance, and Clint Dempsey failing to slide the ball past Courtois after a  very clever free-kick routine. 2-1 it finished, and it is with great sadness that we say goodbye to the USA.

Charlie

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VERDICT – QUARTER FINAL PREVIEW

The eight group winners make it through.

Only seven games left.

The standard of football and the quality of matches has been outstanding thus far. As we enter the last eight; as Neymar faces Rodriguez, as Pogba meets Muller and Kompany battles Messi, there is only reason to suggest that the quality will improve further as the tournament reaches what will be a thrilling conclusion.

The pick of the games has to be Brazil vs Colombia – as the hosts meet the current team of the tournament. Friday will also see France vs Germany, while on Saturday Costa Rica face Holland and Argentina meet Belgium.

 

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Creg, Charlie and Hugh
Owls Alive 
E-MAIL: admin@owlsalive.com 
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @CraigSWFC, @THEsharpey and @hugh_wragg


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