Today we had two quarter-finals that were similar yet quite different.
In both games the favourites won and went ahead early from set-pieces nudged home by centre-halves. Then they stayed in front to the end.
The matches were very different, though, most noticeably the atmospheres at the venues. It was all very civilised at the Maracana with the fans enjoying their afternoon out in the sun. Well those who returned from half time did, at least, as it appeared to take ages to refill the seats on the far side of the field after the break. There must have been something decent going on out the back.
The 1-0 win for Germany over France just looked so routine and efficient. Inevitable. The French had a handful of chances but they needed to be much better than that to beat a keeper like Neuer with the form he’s brought to the tournament. They are probably a shout for the Euros in two years time but this tournament came a bit too early for them to go all the way. So the Germans eased through and they’ll be pleased with what they saw in Fortaleza in the evening.
The atmosphere up there was positively crackling. You could feel it through the TV screen. Honestly, if that’s what Brazil v Colombia can bring then I almost hope the final is between Brazil and Argentina. Imagine that at the Maracana after the tournament we’ve had so far. I doubt we’ll see that though.
Conveniently it rained over night here in Matamata and was rather wet here still this morning so I was able to call of the local mini-kickers session without too much guilt. Judging by the texts I received back from other ‘football’ parents I wasn’t the only pleased adult. That meant I could actually watch the game in real time and not have to rush around like a crazy man trying to fit everything in during the morning.
Anyway, Brazil actually started this one off better than I’ve seen so far this tournament and I remember thinking to myself, ‘Maybe they can win this tournament after all.’ The early goal was good then David Luiz helped himself to a second from all of thirty yards and it looked all over. But it wasn’t. Colombia were still a big part of the game and when Brazil tried to shut it out at 2-0 all the frailties we’ve seen all tournament resurfaced. And then some.
They weren’t very pretty to watch for the final period. It was a bit of a fight there for a while. Yeah, they got the job done but does anyone think this side can beat Germany in the semi-final? Without Neymar, who broke a vertebra after receiving a dirty knee in the back, and their captain Thiago Silva, who received his second yellow card?
I guess Bayern’s Dante will come in for Silva but God (who doesn’t exist, by the way) only knows what they’re going to do about Neymar’s spot. Maybe Luis Gustavo comes back in from suspension to form an even more combative midfield three (with Fernandinho and Paulinho) and Oscar becomes the new Neymar?
Good luck with this one Big Phil. If you figure it out you deserve to win. I’ll be watching on with great interest.
The bulk of my day was filled up with Birthday Party stuff. Nathan turned seven today (Seven already?! Where have the years gone?) so we took him and a couple of mates across to Hamilton for a few hours of indoor rock climbing. He was all over it like Spiderman, which was telling. Maybe that’s his calling?
Anyway, that meant I missed out on watching my Swifts this afternoon and it turns out it was a hell of a game to miss. They played Ngongotaha, a side who was knocked out of the last sixteen of the Chatham Cup last weekend by a Melville United side who play two leagues above them and us. The score then was 2-1 and the match today ended in a 2-1 victory to the Swifts. By that logic…no, let’s not go there. These are just the sort of results that happen all to often in football.
For a team that couldn’t buy a win up until a few weeks ago (no, not even one in pre-season) the Swifts have now won three straight. I’m not quite at the point we’re I’m comfortable saying the plan’s come together, but it’s getting there. We have a young side that’s getting stronger and becoming more consistent as the weeks go by, which is pleasing.
There’s nothing like having your team win being bookended by a four World Cup quarter-finals, with one of your kids’ birthday’s thrown in for good measure. The perfect weekend?
Score picking update
I actually nailed the score in the Brazil v Colombia game so grabbed another decent haul of points. Can anyone catch me in the BFWCSPC?
Picks for Day 24
Netherland 3-0 Costa Rica, Argentina 0-1 Belgium.