Two really good teams left the World Cup on Friday, and I’m more than a little broken up about it.
I always feel a little sad when the quarterfinals begin; after all it’s impossible not to become a little invested in these squads after watching them through the first two weeks. Farewell, France and Colombia. You will be missed.
Some thoughts of Day 20…
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• It looks as if Germany has figured things out. A superb, albeit conservative, victory against France saw the Germans advance to the semifinals for a fourth straight time. Joachim Low returned Philipp Lahm to his favoured full back position and lo (pun intended) and behold it worked. With such stubbornness shown by so many international managers it is refreshing to see Low acquiesce and change things up, even if the media and fans had been screaming for him to do just that. This wasn’t a sign of weakness, and it might end up saving his job.
• France was disappointing. After enjoying a relatively easy path to the quarterfinals the French skeptics were out in force, and sadly they will revel in this. The French were clearly unnerved by facing the Germans, and they did away with what got them this far; they sat back for large chunks of the game and at times even looked uninterested.
• Having said that, Manuel Neuer was an absolute force in this match. Neuer is still the best goalkeeper in the world, and I'm sure he silenced some critics on this day.
• Mats Hummels is also emerging as one of the best defenders in the world. He is critical to Germany's back four, and even adds a goal when called on. Surely the back four as it stands will be the back four in the semifinal?
• I thoroughly enjoyed Brazil vs. Colombia. Sure there were too many whistles and the natural physicality sucked much of the potential flair out of the contest, but this was a classic.
• Colombia looked a tad naive, not able to handle Brazil's approach. But it showed such great character, especially from James Rodriguez, that the result was always in doubt.
• I miss James Rodriguez already.
• The question of who would provide the offence if not Neymar has been asked over and over again. Stupid us, clearly it would always come from the centre backs.
• Thiago Silva was brilliant and asinine all in one game. The yellow and suspension he incurred might just hand Germany a spot in the final. Henrique is the natural replacement, but will Dante get a shot in training this week?