Tracking Tottenham Player Performance in World Cup Knockout Stage

Thomas CooperFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2014

Tracking Tottenham Player Performance in World Cup Knockout Stage

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    Brazil midfielder Paulinho was Tottenham Hotspur's last-man standing at the 2014 World Cup.

    The host nations took on Germany in the semi-final, hoping to seal a memorable return to the Maracana and banish the memories of their 1950 final loss to Uruguay.

    It was not to be.

    Click onto the next page for Paulinho's contribution to the match, and beyond that for a look back at how he and his Spurs team-mates got on throughout the knockout stages.

    UPDATED: Tuesday, July 8

Paulinho, Brazil vs. Germany: Tuesday, July 8

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    The scoreline of Brazil's semi-final defeat to Germany will reverberate around football for a good while yet.

    Despite not being on the pitch for the worst of it in the first-half, Paulinho will unfortunately be remembered as part of the squad that suffered the national team's biggest ever embarrassment.

    The midfielder underwhelmed throughout the tournament before putting in a better performance against Colombia last time out. Nonetheless, he was dropped for this one as his manager Luiz Felipe Scolari adjusted for the injuries to Thiago Silva and, notably, Neymar.

    By the time Paulinho arrived for the second-half Brazil were 5-0 down. It was all but a lost cause, but the Selecao initially showed some fighting spirit.

    Paulinho looked to get involved going forward, and seven minutes in he had a chance to reduce the deficit. Unmarked after a header over the top of the Germany defence, he controlled the ball and shot straight at Manuel Neuer. It came back to the Brazilian, but his second effort was again denied.

    Despite some positives moments like this, Paulinho's contributions soon tailed off. He could be seen just walking back as Andre Schurrle made it six for the final-bound Germans.

    It was in keeping with a woeful night for Brazil. Save for Paulinho possibly being involved in the third place play-off, the involvement of Spurs players in this World Cup is over.


Jan Vertonghen and Nacer Chadli, Belgium vs. Argentina: Saturday, July 5

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    Tottenham's World Cup contingent diminished by three on Saturday after Belgium lost 1-0 to Argentina in the quarter-finals.

    Unfortunately for the sole Spurs starter in the team, Jan Vertonghen, he had an inadvertent role in the eighth minute goal which proved to be the decider.

    Angel Di Maria's attempted through ball deflected off the left-back and into Gonzalo Higuain's path. The striker then let fly with a splendid half-volley past the helpless Thibaut Courtois.

    There was little Vertonghen could do about it either. It was an unfortunate contribution in a match in which he was one of Belgium's brighter performers.

    In defence, he was decent enough as he tracked Higuain and his fellow Argentine attackers on the rare occasions they attacked down his flank. Although on one occasion when he ventured out of his comfort zone, he left an unmarked Enzo Perez able to pass to Lionel Messi who won a free-kick.

    Vertonghen's main involvement came pushing into the opposition half..

    As against the USA, early on he frequently looked to instigate give-and-go moves, but Argentina nullified these attempts more proficiently. When he stuck closer to his left, in a more supportive role, Vertonghen was able to influence the game more successfully.

    Pablo Zabaleta and his team comfortably dealt with lofted balls down the flank for Kevin Mirallas and Kevin De Bruyne from their left-back from here. The space Vertonghen was granted himself, though, allowed him to deliver a number of firm, purposeful crosses.

    The first, 16 minutes in, was a beauty that caused Ezequiel Garay to clear for a corner, but which was left unchallenged by Belgian attackers. Prior to the interval Vertonghen was able to find Mirallas at the near-post, only for the Everton man to head wide.

    After half-time another superb delivery found Marouane Fellaini, but the midfielder headed over.

    As Vertonghen's influence receded, Nacer Chadli was the second Spurs player to enter the fray. He found it just as hard to get on the ball late on, but then on the 88th minute he had a chance to win it.

    Fellow substitute Dries Mertens' corner kick landed at Chadli's feet at the back-post. He had time and space, but the ball got caught in between his legs. By the time he had readjusted, the shooting angle had sufficiently worsened and his shot was saved.

    Mousa Dembele was again left on the bench for the duration of the match.

Paulinho, Brazil vs. Colombia: Friday, July 4

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    Tottenham will have at least one player in the semi-final stage of the World Cup. Brazil, featuring their midfielder Paulinho, beat Colombia 2-1 in a relentless and captivating quarter-final match.

    After being dropped for Brazil's last 16 game with Chile, Luiz Gustavo's suspension meant Paulinho regained his place in Luiz Felipe Scolari's team for the all-South American clash.

    While not outstanding on his return, this was certainly much improved from the 25-year-old.

    Where he was a passenger throughout the group stage, here Paulinho looked to get involved right from the start. One minute into the match he picked up the ball around the halfway line, exchanged passes with Neymar and then sped down the right flank and won a throw-in.

    For the first time this tournament, Paulinho was getting properly involved in his team's attacks. Looking to instigate give-and-go moves every chance he got, his most threatening moment came in the 25th minute.

    Receiving another pass from Neymar, he dribbled successfully beyond two Colombians into the penalty area. His touch was too heavy, though, and he stumbled under pressure.

    Paulinho worked well on occasion in the first-half combining with his midfield partner Fernandinho to apply pressure to their Colombian counterparts. He looked unsure of himself when pushed further back, however, a trend that would become prominent in the second-half.

    His contributions going forward were less telling after the interval, with there decidedly less space to operate in. As Colombia tried to find a way back in the game in the final 20 minutes, on the back-foot Paulinho found himself overwhelmed by their skill and quick-passing.

    Resorting to kicking out at the likes of Juan Zuniga as they skipped past him, Paulinho was unsurprisingly withdrawn by Scolari on the 85th minute.

    Whether Paulinho did enough to earn a spot in his manager's team to take on Germany will be found out on Tuesday. At the very least, the Spurs man should be pleased with a better showing in his team's big win.

Hugo Lloris, France vs. Germany: Friday, July 4

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    Hugo Lloris' World Cup campaign came to an end at the Maracana on Friday as his France team lost 1-0 to Germany.

    The goalkeeper was beaten in the 11th minute by a superb Mats Hummels header which flew in off the crossbar, frustratingly out of his reach.

    It was one of the few occasions Germany actually managed an effort on the France goalkeeper's goal.

    He was out twice in the space of two minutes to collect loose balls after Mathieu Debuchy and Patrice Evra had respectively put off Miroslav Klose and Thomas Muller. Otherwise the majority of Lloris' touches were to take a pass or clear the ball as the Germans pressured the French defence.

    The second-half was even quieter for the best part of 30 minutes.

    Andre Schurrle was the first to properly test him post-interval, Lloris getting down to save the attacker's 72nd minute shot across goal. The Chelsea man was again denied just under 10 minutes later when his Premier League rival kept out a scuff shot with his feet.

    Lloris was closed down in stoppage time with the ball at his feet, but safely passed it on as France mounted one of the last of several unsuccessful attacks on the day. Backed, as it was, with impeccable defending all afternoon, Hummels' solitary goal proved enough for Joachim Low's side to win.

    They now progress to the semi-finals. France and Lloris' World Cup is over.

Jan Vertonghen and Nacer Chadli, Belgium vs. USA: Tuesday, July 1

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    In comparison to his first 90 minutes, Jan Vertonghen's half-hour of extra-time in Belgium's 2-1 win over USA was quiet.

    Not that the left-back was not involved at all. After making a clearance he had a chance to double his side's lead following Romelu Lukaku's opener early in the extra period.

    Caught in two minds after breaking forward on that occasion, Vertonghen did not need to think twice about scrambling the ball clear as the US upped the pressure in search of an equaliser.

    The frantic nature of that final 30 minutes overshadowed the reliable presence the 27-year-old offered throughout normal time.

    Vertonghen's first contribution was an interception that helped launch a Belgian counter-attack, one of the first of many on the night. His next involvements were mostly defensive too, seeing out the run of Fabian Johnson for a goal-kick and then putting it out for a corner when the same man attacked.

    Left unprotected by Eden Hazard, Vertonghen had to deal with plenty such forward forays down his flank. At least until the more defensively disciplined Kevin De Bruyne was switched to the left to aid him here in extra-time.

    The Tottenham player was also granted a number of opportunities to get forward himself, though. His overlapping and movement in seeking returns from give-and-gos freed him to send in teasing crosses and try his luck at goal too. In one minute spell, he was denied by Howard then fired a volley over the crossbar.

    Arguably Belgium's best chance in the opening hour came when Vertonghen hit a low cross through the penalty area which neither De Bruyne or Divock Origi were able to successfully adjust to convert.

    By the time Nacer Chadli replaced Hazard on the 111th minute, Belgium's focus was firmly on keeping the USA away from their goal. The attacking midfielder managed to buy his team a few precious seconds in his few moments on the ball.

    Mousa Dembele was an unused substitute. Belgium take on Argentina in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

Nabil Bentaleb, Algeria vs. Germany: Monday, June 30

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    After starting all three of Algeria's Group H games, Nabil Bentaleb could only watch on as the African country lost 2-1 in extra-time to Germany.

    The midfielder was dropped by manager Vahid Halilhodzic, the coach subsequently looking elsewhere within his squad for the three substitutes he would make.

    Bentaleb should be pleased with his overall performances at his first World Cup. Not for a second has he looked overawed by the occasion and drama of the tournament. He has been a calm, tidy presence in an Algeria midfield arguably defined by its intensity.

    Altogether, this has been another great experience for the 19-year-old in what has been a 2014 to remember for him.

    Having broke into the Tottenham first-team last season, Bentaleb will now turn his attention back to trying to establish himself as a regular starter heading into the upcoming Premier League campaign.

    But first, a well earned rest.

Hugo Lloris, France vs. Nigeria: Monday, June 30

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    Hugo Lloris enjoyed a mostly quiet afternoon's work in France's last 16 encounter with Nigeria, the Europeans winning 2-0 thanks to a Paul Pogba header and Joseph Yobo own goal in the last 10 minutes.

    While Nigeria threatened throughout, they tested the France captain all too infrequently.

    Lloris' first real action in the first-half came 14 minutes in when he comfortably caught a John Obi Mikel header back towards the six-yard box.

    Emmanuel Emenike did beat the goalkeeper at the near post four minutes later. However, the Nigerian striker's effort was disallowed after a narrow offside call.

    After claiming a couple of crosses in between times, it was Emenike who would force the first real save out of Lloris just prior to the interval.

    The Fenerbache forward's powerful shot came quickly at the Frenchman, only allowing him enough time to push it back out quickly into the crowd in front of him. Before any further danger could arise the ball was handled by Victor Moses.

    Lloris' was not called upon in the second-half until over 15 minutes had been played. It proved to be his last notable involvement of the match. His fellow Premier League player Peter Odemwingie drove in a low effort which the Tottenham shot-stopper safely moved out of harms way.

    France move onto the quarter-final stage, Lloris undoubtedly expecting harder work to come.

Paulinho, Brazil vs. Chile: Saturday, June 28

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    Paulinho's struggle for form in the group stage saw Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari drop him to the bench for their last 16 match with Chile.

    The Spurs midfielder was to see no action during the 90 minutes, with his boss opting to introduce Jo and Ramires as his first two substitutes.

    With the game tied at 1-1 after 90 minutes, Willian was chosen as the last to come for the Selecao.

    While Paulinho did not play, his status as a good team-mate was confirmed as he was frequently shown geeing up his colleagues during the extra-time intervals.

    Not the exact contribution he would have hoped to have made, then. But better than nothing, especially as Brazil went onto win 3-2 on penalties.