World Cup ICYMI: QF – Brazil vs. Belgium, France vs. Uruguay

Just like that, it all comes to an end for South American teams at this World Cup. No matter what happens now, the World Cup is staying with a European team.

In short:

  • Edinson Cavani was a surprising drop from the matchday squad, and it all went downhill for Uruguay once his name wasn’t announced
  • France claimed their third South American scalp at this tournament, becoming only the second team to beat three South American teams in a tournament (the famous 1974 Netherlands team did the same)
  • France enters their sixth semifinal, reaching the final two of those times
  • It was a bad day at the office for Luis Suarez: despite representing Uruguay’s best hope of a goal, the Barcelona striker failed to take a single touch in the French box. Not a great stat for a striker
  • To carry on from that: Uruguay went an entire half without having a single shot on goal. Like I said, not great.
  • Heading over to the Brazil game: it’s the fourth time in four tournaments that Selecao have been eliminated by an European team.
  • Despite losing, Brazil had their chances. They had 14 shots in the second half to Belgium’s one…
  • Renato Augusto scored just over three minutes after his introduction, not a bad way to reward the manager.
  • It’s Brazil’s second-ever loss to the Belgians, and first time they’ve lost to the Red Devils since 1963.
  • One stat does stay alive with this result: no team has won a match at a World Cup after going in to half time trailing by two or more goals

The takeaway

What a shame to lose the South American contingent at this stage in the tournament. After coming in as the heavy favourites, Brazil just couldn’t bring it all together. They looked confused by Neymar’s presence, and the Paris Saint-Germain man ultimately slowed many of their attacks forward.

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Poor Fernandinho. It wasn’t even close to being his day. First he deflects in the opener (via his elbow) and then he spends the match misplacing passes and increasingly refusing to take any sort of risk, out of a fear of giving away possession.

A word for Romelu Lukaku: absolute domination. The Manchester United striker hammered Miranda time and time again, finally showing off a fantastic partnership with Kevin de Bruyne. His assist featured a surging run forward from his own half, dancing past several Brazilians, laying off the ball to De Bruyne just before being taken down by Paulinho. De Bruyne only needed a few steps before unleashing a stinging shot past Alisson.

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Brazil had no answer to Belgium’s counterattacks, with the sneaking suspicion that the loss of the suspended Casemiro played a part in that.

For manager Roberto Martinez, the result provides justification for what can be seen as his relentless idealism and dedication to building an attacking unit.

For Brazil: you have to imagine there will be calls for changes. No world cup success since 2002 but it’s hard to see what else could be done. They had more than their fair chances against Belgium, with the margins incredibly fine. It’d be a shame to see Tite shown the door after he’s proven to be adept at handling the circus that is Brazil’s national team.

To the other South American-European contest and it’s more vindication that Didier Deschamps knows what’s he doing. The former Marseille man has faced more than his fair share of criticism since taking over Les Bleus, but they’re through to the semis and look like odds on favourites to taste their first success since 1998.

But it will go down as a night featuring a shocking goalkeeping performance. Fernando Muslera’s sudden inability to comprehend what to do when facing an oncoming shot. His attempted parry turning in to palming it in rightfully earned criticism.

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For Uruguay, you have to think this is the end of the road for Suarez, Diego Godin and Cavani. Cavani’s sudden drop from the squad — there was even confusion about whether he was in the 18 or not. His departure from the team left them unbalanced and without the right type of focal point up front.

In the end, for a team that has shown grit and style, Uruguay went down without a whimper.

Now to see who will join France and Belgium in the semifinals…

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