World Cup Daily: Neymar miracle needed and Krul treatment
In The Headlines
We now know the make-up of the last four after a quarter final weekend which showed the teams were really feeling the heat with nervy single-goal games at 5pm and a pair of World Cup thrillers in the late matches played on Friday and Saturday.
Unfortunately for neutrals shocks were in short supply, starting on Friday with Germany reverting to Die Mannschaft of old with a solid 1-0 win that screamed efficiency.
French fans were left screaming at the television after one Benzema miss but in truth Les Bleus were outclassed with Didier Deschamps forced to bring Olivier Giroud on, who repaid him by occupying an offside position at all times, coming into the game occasionally to commit a foul.
Brazil survived a bruising encounter against Colombia though Neymar was ruled out of the rest of the tournament after a Juan Zuniga challenge left him nursing a back injury while Thiago Silva picked up the stupidest of second yellow cards and will miss the Germany match.
Check out Fred’s reaction to the Neymar news!
Before that he had given the Selecao an early lead which was doubled after the break with a thunderous David Luiz free-kick. Colombia were unlucky to have a Mario Yepes equaliser ruled out just before that but did come back into the game with a penalty from James Rodriguez late on. It wasn’t enough though, with Los Cafeteros’ dream ending.
Saturday saw Gonzalo Higuain wake from his World Cup slumber to score with pretty much his only touch as Argentina saw off Belgium in a game where Lionel Messi created more than the entire Red Devils team.
We were back in thriller territory later though as Costa Rica put in a heroic display against Holland to force penalties. Louis van Gaal had one trick up his sleeve though: Tim Krul.
Coming on in extra time, the Newcastle man’s first touch was a spot-kick save. He saved two as the Dutch progressed, though he could yet face FIFA sanctions after a series of pre-kick chats with the Costa Rica takers.
The Non-England Camp
Zuniga is public enemy number one in Brazil after his challenge on Neymar ended the Barca star’s tournament, with the defender already the subject of hate mail from fans worried about losing to Germany or, worse still, Argentina.
There may be some hope though amid rumours suggesting Neymar could benefit from stem cell treatment, though time is ticking on.
He did take time out to tell his country to not stop dreaming of the World Cup in a video message seemingly inspired by the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin'”.
Elsewhere the hosts are set to appeal Thiago Silva’s suspension, though it could fall on deaf ears.
While Brazil lost Neymar to injury, Argentina have also said goodbye to Angel Di Maria, with the winger ruled out after picking up an injury against Belgium.
Sergio Aguero is closing in on a surprise return though, with many previously fearing the Man City star would not be seen again at these finals. Ron Vlaar is a doubt for Holland though.
Argentina’s fans haven’t wasted any time in sticking the boot in when it comes to Brazil’s Neymar woes with a series of news providers running photos and videos of La Albiceleste fans celebrating with a mock plastic spinal cord. That could come back to haunt them yet.
Elsewhere Colombia returned home to a hero’s welcome, having exorcised the demons of those fateful finals some 20 years ago.
In Other News
Giorgios Chiellini may have forgiven Luis Suarez for his World Cup bite but he is unlikely to forget it after getting a tattoo with the words “Suarez was ‘ere” on the exact spot where contact was made. Classy.