Today's game recaps have been kindly provided by your friend and ours, 2.1 seconds left, as due to minor disasters and then a massive tornado-bearing thunderstorm, I only got to watch about 45 minutes of the four hours worth of soccer that happened today. We might see some hot takes from 2.1 later in the tournament as well, especially where Germany's involved. So, without further ado, 2.1's observations:
In the aftermath of this game, it is kind of easy to forget just how dominant Brazil looked in the first half. Brazil opened the scoring rather quickly in the 18th minute off a headed cross from Hulk which either found the back of goal off of David Luis’ knee or off of Chilean defender Gonzalo Jara’s (remember that name) foot. It seemed only a matter of time before Brazil added to that, with Neymar looking extremely dangerous on a number of receptions in Chile’s third of the pitch, consistently showing his speed advantage despite looking somewhat reticent to shoot with his left foot. However, three sloppy Brazil turnovers each provided Chile with decent scoring opportunities, with Alexis Sánchez turning Hulk’s turnover in the 32nd minute into a somewhat soft goal past Julio Cesar. Brazil would give up another similar such opportunity in stoppage time of the first half, providing an indication of where the game was headed.
In the second half, I think it is more than fair to say that Chile played brilliantly, while Brazil played tight. The Seleção looked disinterested in maintaining possession and making runs for one another, with Neymar in particular looking gassed. Hulk, for his part, actually put in a very solid half after his gaffe had allowed Chile to tie the proceedings, but the second half was much more about Alexis Sánchez controlling the game on the ball than it was about any Brazilian players. That said, Hulk looked to have put Brazil ahead in the 55th minute after settling the ball with his armpit (according to him) or his upper arm (according to the referee). Chile probably should have gone ahead in the 64th minute when Charles Aránguiz got the ball on a nice cutback pass in front of goal, but Julio Cesar made one hell of a save to keep the ball out, redeeming himself for any lax play on Sánchez’s goal. Chile continued to dominate possession, and by the end of regulation Brazil looked to be playing for extra time – a move that I’m sure delighted their supporters.
Extra time was rather uneventful outside of two stellar strikes, one by each side. First, Hulk’s rocket of a shot from 30+ yards was turned aside by Chilean keeper Claudio Bravo in the 103rd minute. And in the 120th minute, substitute Mauricio Pinilla of Chile unleashed a howitzer of a shot that hit the bottom half of the crossbar before bouncing free, a shot that I’m sure he will be replaying in his dreams tonight. Penalties were penalties – Julio Cesar saved two, one more brilliant than the other. Willian of Brazil missed the target and Claudio Bravo saved another, setting up Neymar as the golden boy when he made his, and Gonzalo Jara as the goat when he missed his (I feel for that man). Brazil wins, 3-2 on penalties in a game I think it’s fair to say they probably shouldn't have won (though it would be equally unfair to say they should have lost).
(Editor's note: We would be remiss not to note that Chile's Gary Medel, who was questionable to start and absolutely would not have had the game been on Friday, gritted out 108 minutes before his thigh finally said "No mas." What's especially interesting about this, to me, was Willian's reaction as Medel was stretchered off: he was looking on with an expression that can't be mistaken for anything other than awe and respect. We mock soccer players for being fragile, but they also know when the other guy's really hurt. Medel ran about six miles yesterday on a strained quad. Let's see you do that, champ.)
My apologies for subjecting you to a full-length essay on the first game; suffice to say that this one was a lot less interesting and will require significantly fewer words to discuss. I could probably just use two, in fact: James Rodriguez. Uruguay actually played well in this one throughout on defense, and was better than Colombia on offense in the latter stages. But without Luis Suarez they didn’t have a gamebreaker like James Rodriguez, and in this case that’s really all it came down to.
In a first half where both teams really struggled to mount any offense, Rodriguez settled a volley from outside the goal box on his chest, turned, and fired the shot before the ball hit turf. Upper corner of goal, right off of Muslera’s fingertips, 1-0 Colombia. . Then, in the second half, Pablo Armero served up a nice rope of a cross right into the far post, where Juan Cuadrado was waiting to head it back to Jon’s new Liverpool wet dream, the aforementioned James Rodriguez. Easy finish, back of the net, Colombia 2-0, and Uruguay didn’t have a chance of manufacturing the goals to come back without their own talisman.
Thanks, 2.1! Everybody give him a hand.
|MATCH||TIME (CT)||NETWORK||ROUND||TEAMS / SITE||REFEREE||ANNOUNCERS||ODDS|
Netherlands vs Mexico
Estádio Castelão, Fortaleza
|Pedro Proença (POR)||Fernando Palomo
Costa Rica vs Greece
Arena Pernambuco, Recife
|Ben Williams (AUS)||Daniel Mann
Costa Rica 6:4
Game 51: Netherlands-Mexico
This will be the sixth meeting between the two sides, with the Dutch winning three, Mexico two, and a single draw. Their last meeting was in 2010 in a friendly at Freiburg, Germany; the Oranje won that match 2-1. There is good news and bad news for the Dutch. The bad: Leroy Fer is absolutely ruled out, and Bruno Martins Indi is still questionable (though most sources expect him to be able to start). The good: Robin van Persie is back after missing the final group stage game due to a pair of yellows. There are some other minor injury concerns which aren't expected to affect the lineup; Nigel de Jong, Daley Blind, Arjen Robben, and Stefan de Vrij are all somewhat ailing. It may not matter; then again, as we saw with Chile's Gary Medel last night, it may matter a lot. As for Mexico, who are looking to advance to the quarterfinals somewhere other than Mexico for the first time ever, the only chance expected is that someone, likely Carlos Pena, will have to start in place of the suspended Jose Juan Vazquez. It's possible Javier Hernandez will instead slot in, forcing a bit of a formation adustment. The Dutch are the likely victors today, but Mexico has proven that under new management they're capable of doing damage. Jack Sargeant is on duty still, providing SB Nation's match preview.
Game 52: Costa Rica-Greece
The biggest problem for Los Ticos as they prepare for their first-ever meeting with Greece is simply that Greece was the last team they expected to be facing. In the wake of their early clinching of qualification to the knockouts, they began preparing to face Colombia or the Ivory Coast, so lost a few days of vital videotape study. It really shouldn't matter, as Costa Rica has shown themselves to be pretty darned good at the footballing, and have absolutely no injury concerns or suspensions to deal with. They'll trot out the same eleven. Greece, on the other hand, appear to have to move along without Panagiotis Kone, injured in the final group stage game. They could conceivable have captain Kostas Katsouranis in the lineup after serving his disciplinary suspension, but it's an open question as to whether he'll actually start. Greece is, unquestionably, the worst team in the final sixteen, but Costa Rica is still somewhat an unknown commodity. Los Ticos probably advance, but it wouldn't be a stunning result if they didn't. SB Nation's match preview is again the work of Jack Sargeant.
As always, be sure to join us for the day's action; we should have two very good games today.