Brazil vs. Colombia: Selecao Shut Down James Rodriguez by Any Means Necessary

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Brazil vs. Colombia: Selecao Shut Down James Rodriguez by Any Means Necessary
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Brazil booked their place in the FIFA World Cup 2014 semifinals on Tuesday evening with a frantic 2-1 victory over Colombia.

Thiago Silva kneed the Selecao ahead after just seven minutes from a corner, then David Luiz's incredible long-range free-kick made it 2-0 in the second half.

James Rodriguez notched his sixth of the tournament from the penalty spot to bring Los Cafeteros back into contention, but the required second goal eluded them.

 

Formations and XIs

@stighefootball

Brazil continued in their standard 4-2-3-1, playing Paulinho in defensive midfield in place of the suspended Luiz Gustavo and Maicon ahead of Dani Alves at right-back.

Colombia played a 4-2-3-1 too, but dropped Jackson Martinez in favour of Victor Ibarbo. The Cagliari man played on the left, James Rodriguez as No. 10 and Teofilo Gutierrez as a centre-forward.

 

Uptempo

The pace of the game over the the first 45 minutes was nothing short of frightening. Rarely do we see even contests like this explode on the pitch so early.

Brazil scored early through Thiago Silva, which encouraged the home side, and as the fans bayed for more attacks and more pressure, space opened up for Los Cafeteros to use.

It created an end-to-end spectacle where quick/high turnovers led to direct attacks, with 11 dribbles being completed in relation to sparking moves, per WhoScored.com.

Absolute chaos.

 

James

James stood central to Colombia's hopes prior to kick-off and Luiz Felipe Scolari knew it. Many wondered how they'd cope with him sans Luiz Gustavo, and the answer, it turns out, was to ask Fernandinho to kick him to pieces.

How the Manchester City man avoided a booking during the first 45 minutes is anyone's guess, and although he had a very strong half, posting good defensive numbers, he committed four fouls too.

FourFourTwo.com/StatsZone
Brazil's astonishing foul map vs. Colombia.

James was able to break away just once, feeding Juan Cuadrado who in turn foolishly tried to force the ball into Gutierrez.

His influence grew substantially in the second half as he battled on, continued to receive the ball and turn to create. He dropped a little deeper, reinfusing the link between defensive midfield (Sanchez) and the forward line, but his influence didn't peak until Pekerman changed the formation.

 

Fredy Guarin

Guarin was preferred to Abel Aguilar from the get-go: an odd, somewhat questionable choice by Jose Pekerman.

The holding duo of Aguilar and Sanchez was magnificent during the first four games (when in action), and Guarin seemed a little unimpressive when given cameo shots in the side.

Perhaps Pekerman was worried James would be nullified and wanted Guarin's attacking drive from deep to be a second-wave offensive option, but if that was the plan it didn't work. 

He managed one successful take-on, per FourFourTwo, and generally looked very clumsy moving forward. He failed to link the defence to the attack, forcing James deeper, and surrendered swathes of space around him for Brazil to manipulate.

 

Desperation

Both sides were desperate to gain the upper-hand throughout the match, and Brazil played several risky passes that were cut out with ease in an attempt to pile on offensive pressure.

The Selecao completed just 232 of their 293 passes, good for a 79 percent completion rate, and Colombia profited with a high number of interceptions.

FourFourTwo.com/StatsZone

Adrian Ramos replaced Ibarbo at half-time on the left for Colombia but the substitution did little to effect the flow of the game. Carlos Bacca was then sent on as well, moving to a more fluid 4-2-2-2 and giving James license to start wide and float inside.

That was the key to finding his feet every minute or so without fail, and it was he who created the chance for the penalty and buried it in the corner himself.

@stighefootball
Six subs later: Brazil (4-2-3-1) vs. Colombia (4-2-2-2).

Scolari, on the other hand, was busy replacing attackers with more defensive peripherals: Ramires' strong legs replaced Hulk's, Henrique came on at defensive midfield for Neymar and Hernanes replaced the hardworking Paulinho.

 

Conclusion

The world will lament the loss of Colombia and James Rodriguez to the tournament; they were the real neutrals' favourites right from the word go.

James' six goals and remarkable performances will spark a lengthy transfer saga this summer, but the smart money is on him testing his UEFA Champions League abilities (again) with AS Monaco.

Brazil progress but lose Silva (suspension) for the semi-finals and Neymar (injury) for the rest of the World Cup, per BBC Sport. Without those two in the side, figures such as David Luiz take on new, unprecedented levels of importance.

The Selecao will face Germany for a place in the final. 

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