Yesterday Matthew was rooting for France, as he lived there for many years—he speaks fluent French—and has written two books about the Resistance and the liberation of Paris. Sadly, France lost to Germany 0-1 in a pretty dull game, and Matthew consoled himself with a bowl of Eton Mess.
Brazil beat Colombia 2-1, in a fast-moving game that showed that Brazil is not nearly as bad as it has looked so far. Colombia just couldn’t control the ball, but did have one good goal (on penalty) by James Rodríguez. Brazil clinched the win with a wonderful free-kick by Luiz from 68 feet (21 meters) out. I managed to watch both games.
Today’s schedule is also a corker, and I’ll try to watch both games, as I’m almost finished polishing the Albatross. I’m rooting for Argentina, of course, and, although the Dutch will likely win, my heart is with underdog Costa Rica.
Here are the highlights from yesterday’s games:
Germany/France (click on screenshot to go to videos):
Brazil/Colombia (Luiz’s kick):
Did anybody notice that Rodríguez, the young star of Colombia, had a huge grasshopper on his arm when he made his successful penalty kick against Brazil? The Telegraph reports with photos; clearly the orthopteran brought luck:
James Rodriguez threw his side a lifeline late in the semi-final defeat by Brazil when he scored a penalty and celebrated the strike, unaware that a huge green insect had been hitching a ride on his arm.
He calmly slotted the spot-kick past Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar, with the grasshopper still clinging to his shirt.
Eventually it flew off, together with Los Cafeteros’ hopes of reaching their first ever World Cup semi-final as the Brazilians prevailed 2-1 in the quarter-finals in Fortaleza.
Such is football in the tropics. Can anyone identify this insect?
Rodríguez had six goals in the tournament, and although his team is through, this young man has plenty to be proud of. But he was in tears after the post-game exchange of jerseys, and, after being hugged by his coach, walked forlornly off the field.
Here’s a take on the tight US/Belgium match from a piece in Slate called “This GIF shows how tantalizingly close the US came to tying Belgium.” It’s US-centric, of course, and we lost in overtime 2-1.
First, Jermaine Jones streaks in front of Michael Bradley, helping to camouflage the Americans’ true intentions. Bradley then taps a diagonal ball to the cutting Chris Wondolowski. The Belgian wall, which had been primed for a Bradley shot, busts apart as five players scatter aimlessly. As the Red Devils scramble, Clint Dempsey races to the front of the goal, and Wondolowski’s pass hits him in stride. At this point, the Belgians have been thoroughly beaten. The men in red are standing, watching, and hoping that the play breaks down, somehow.
It does. Dempsey’s first touch is heavy, perhaps because Wondolowski struck his pass with a bit too much pace. Instead of gathering it smoothly and smashing it into the net, Dempsey now races to control the ball.
There’s also one Belgian player who’s not absolutely dumbstruck. To his credit, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois comes off his line quickly. It’s a world-class move by a world-class player: Courtois is just fast enough to slide in and dispossess Dempsey before the American forward can regain possession.
If Courtois had stayed in place, Dempsey would have slotted the ball in and tied the match 2-2. Instead, the Belgians held on for a deserved victory. In the end, this play stands as a microcosm of the Americans’ performance at the 2014 World Cup. It was surprising, thrilling, and not quite good enough to beat one of the best teams in the world.
Finally, today’s Google Doodle; I think they’re running out of ideas! Click on the screenshot to see the animation:
h/t: Steve, pyers