Daily Cup Check: Day 17
The business end has started, and it’s not short of storylines already. The rest of the round of 16 is going to have to try hard to live up to today. Let’s hope it does.
Brazil 1 – Chile 1 (Brazil win on penalties, 3-2)
No one would consider this a work of art, as the tension and frantic-ness of it took over somewhere in the first half. But you couldn’t take your eyes off of it. You wonder if Chile had been just a bit more ambitious how it would have gone.
But then, they’re the width of the post away from one of the bigger upsets in tournament history, so maybe they had it right. But when you play for one chance and you get it but miss it, here you are.
What was most surprising was how easy it was to blunt Brazil. This is Brazil after all, they’re supposed to overwhelm you with their panache and talent.
Steve McManaman pointed this out during this game: when you look at previous Brazil rosters there’s more than one or two world-class attackers. 2006 had Ronaldinho and Kaka and Ronaldo and Robinho. 2002 saw Ronaldinho and Rivaldo and one or two others. 2010 didn’t really, though it had an actual striker in Luis Fabiano, and they went out in the quarters.
This one? It’s Neymar and… where’s the next world class player? The two in central defense? Ok, I’d agree to that but that certainly doesn’t help Brazil look less ordinary at times in attack. Hulk even had a good game today, other than one bad touch, but would you consider him a world-class forward? There was a time when he was considered so, but now?
If Vidal had been healthy you could even argue that Chile had as many threatening attackers at this level, since they have Alexis Sanchez. Fred is obviously terrible, and then they brought in a big striker in Jo who can’t win a ball in the air.
They allowed Gary Medel to be a world-beater today (I also like to think the dots in Medel’s head are a secret map to Atlantis or Valhalla or something). Oscar worked awfully hard today behind the front three but couldn’t provide much thrust.
I wonder if the way forward for the Selecao here isn’t to go with the Spanish (and now German) False 9 route. Toss Fred into a dumpster, bring in Willian or Ramires and just let Neymar, Hulk, Oscar and Willian kind of interchange and roam and see if they can’t find an opening that way.
I’m not usually one to put any stock in postgame quotes or reaction, but Brazil seems just a bit too relieved and happy to get out of this one. Are the quarters really the best they hoped for? Do they think they just got out of jail and play free from here on out? Or is this the best they have to offer?
They’ve looked out of ideas against just about everyone except a Cameroon team that was already on the plane. You wonder.
As for Chile, the tournament is worse without them and you can’t help but think what they might have done with a fully fit Vidal. Still, as well muzzled as they had Brazil in the 2nd half you wish they would have gone after it a little more. A glorious defeat I guess, but defeat nonetheless.
Colombia 2 – Uruguay 0
And on the opposite side of the spectrum, a team no one will miss from this tournament got put on their ass in the Rio night. Colombia were bright, energetic, inventive, and deadly, all the things Uruguay couldn’t spell in this tournament (at least not without Suarez, all jokes aside). Uruguay showed up with the same team as four years ago and just expected the same things to happen, and they didn’t.
Their reaction to Suarez’s suspension was laughable when it wasn’t sad, and certainly didn’t win them any fans. I’m a Liverpool supporter and even I don’t think it was excessive, so bitching and moaning after the fact doesn’t do anyone any good. In fact, it felt like they were building in an excuse for the tonking they knew was coming. And it did. Persecution is always a good feeling to have when you know you don’t have enough.
Meanwhile, if Falcao were healthy I’d really fancy Colombia to win this whole fucking thing, though maybe they’d play differently if they had him. Maybe they wouldn’t run everything through Rodriguez and Cuadrado and Aguilar and would just get the ball as quickly as they could to Falcao. Doesn’t matter now, because what we do have here is a team that’s a joy to watch.
To be fair to Uruguay, for the first 20 minutes they had Colombia fairly well contained. Cuadrado was forced to flip to the left, such was Peirera’s handling of him, and Rodriguez was struggling to find space.
But the thing is, it takes a moment of inspiration from a truly class player to break that down at times. James found it, and Uruguay didn’t have anyone who could. Colombia scoring first is what the neutral needed, because it forced Uruguay to come out a bit. This would have been unwatchable had Uruguay scored first.
The sweeping move for Colombia’s second was breathtaking, sweeping from one side of the field to the other and back again. While Rodriguez’s opener was the stuff of dreams, the second was probaby what every coach dreams of. Six players involved and a tap-in. It’s how you practice it with no defenders.
How far can they go? You worry about Yepes dealing with Neymar and whatever else Brazil send in attack. But Colombia have looked far more lively than Brazil, and if James and Cuadrado and Zuniga keep Alves and Marcelo pinned back… it could happen easily.
Analysis of the Day
“The sort of goal you want to pour on your strawberries.” Quite.
Fan Of The Day
Has to be this guy. We’ve all been there.
OTF Player Of The Day
James Rodriguez: When Colombia play we’ll just write this beforehand, clearly.