World Cup 2014: Winners and Losers from Day 19
Day 19 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup featured another evening of round-of-16 matches, culminating in two more quarterfinalists.
France and Nigeria was a closer game than most might have expected for a period of time, though the French were certainly stronger in the second half and ran out deserved 2-0 winners in the end.
Germany followed that up by following their European rivals into the last eight, dispatching Algeria in extra time by a 2-1 scoreline after a terrific tussle throughout.
Here are all the biggest winners and losers from the day.
Loser: Olivier Giroud's Low-Key Performance
Olivier Giroud was handed a start by Didier Deschamps, which gave the forward the opportunity to spear France's attack against Nigeria in the round-of-16 clash.
The Arsenal playmaker has previously linked well with Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena, but on this occasion he was well off the pace, failed to combine with his attacking team-mates and was poor in his movement.
It was a big opportunity for Giroud to win himself a more permanent place in the team as France progress through the World Cup, but he was substituted around the hour mark after having no impact at all.
Winner: Antoine Griezmann Changing the Game
By contrast to Giroud, Antoine Griezmann has had an exciting and electric time at the World Cup and was France's catalyst to crank up the pressure on Nigeria and, ultimately, take victory.
The wide forward actually took up central positions quite often before allowing Benzema to dart infield and either drop deeper himself or play quick one-twos around the edge of the penalty box.
Griezmann was involved in some of France's best moves in the final third of the match and almost scored the second goal himself, forcing Joseph Yobo into an own goal.
Speaking about his performance, Griezmann told FIFA.com:
I tried to help the team by playing one-touch passes. I'm happy with my performance. You could see in the first half that it was difficult to get behind them, but it was better after the break. When I came on, I made runs in behind the defence. The rest of the team had worn their defence down well before I came on.
Loser: Vincent Enyeama
"Maybe the best African goalkeeper ever"—thus was Vincent Enyeama labelled by BBC Sport co-commentator Kevin Kilbane during the match. Whether he is correct is up for debate, but Enyeama is certainly a hugely capable stopper.
It proved to be a classic case of commentator's curse, though, as Enyeama flapped woefully at a late corner, coming off his line to deflect the ball into a dangerous area instead of securing it or punching it far away. From there, Paul Pogba headed into a wide-open net to give France the game's first goal.
Winner: Algeria's Fast Start
Most viewers would probably have expected Germany to dominate the game against Algeria and try to break down the African side's resolute defence, but it didn't go that way at all from kick-off.
Algeria took the game to Germany, launching quick attacks after winning possession with a series of direct passes in behind the German back four, looking for Islam Slimani and El Arbi Soudani to make runs down the channels.
A (rightly) disallowed goal and several close calls in the first half-hour or so demonstrated the Algerian side's dominance.
Loser: Germany's Training Ground Set Piece 'Routine'
Preempted or tired limbs?
Whichever it was, Thomas Mueller looked rather foolish when he stumbled in the run-up to take a free-kick for Germany, tumbling to ground over his own legs.
Not a memorable moment.
Winner: Goalkeeping in Germany-Algeria Game
Algeria's main method of attacking was to send through passes beyond the high defensive line, with the German defenders largely lacking in pace.
Manuel Neuer started with an incredibly high position himself and came to Germany's rescue on numerous occasions, racing out of his penalty area to clear with head or foot to prevent Slimani and Co. coming in on goal for a free shot.
At the other end, Rais M'Bolhi was superb for Algeria, putting in a commanding performance, making saves and distributing well, until he was finally beaten in extra time.
Winner: Algeria, for Being Far and Away the Best African Nation
Algeria might be going home, but they have done themselves and their fans proud and have been easily the best African side at the 2014 World Cup.
They led against Belgium, held and knocked out Russia and tactically outwitted Korea Republic before taking Germany the distance.
It has been a tremendous World Cup campaign for them, reaching the last 16 for the first time in their history, and they have scored more goals in a single finals than ever before. They bow out with their heads held high.
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