Brazil vs. Colombia: 6 Things We Learned
Brazil took a further step toward exorcising the demons of 1950 with a hotly contested 2-1 victory over Colombia in Friday's World Cup quarter-final.
Thiago Silva gave the host nation an early lead, which was then doubled by his central-defensive partner David Luiz in the 68th minute.
Colombia pulled one back when James Rodriguez converted from the penalty spot with 10 minutes left to play, but they were unable to find an equaliser thereafter.
Brazil held on to progress to the last four, where they will face Germany on Tuesday.
Here are six things we learned from Brazil's 2-1 victory over Colombia.
World Cup Referees Are Starting to Get Too Lenient
There is a difference between letting the game flow and simply failing to punish offences worthy of yellow cards. Unfortunately, Friday's referee, Carlos Velasco of Spain, fell too much into the latter category.
Fernandinho somehow survived being booked before the interval following a number of fouls on James Rodriguez, who received rough treatment throughout with no punishment for the offenders.
Thiago Silva should have been booked for a clear foul from behind on Adrian Ramos just before the hour mark.
The first yellow didn't come until the 64th minute, and even then it was for Silva preventing the Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina from releasing the ball.
Rodriguez could scarcely believe it when he was booked himself for a tame challenge on Hulk a couple of minutes later.
That the match semiregularly devolved into periods of consistent fouling and physicality was due in large part to the exceedingly lenient officiating of Velasco.
It would be very surprising if he were called on to referee any further matches in the remainder of the tournament.
Set Pieces Help Brazil to Victory
As per Infostrada Live, neither side had conceded from a set piece coming into Friday's match.
Colombia's record lasted just seven minutes.
Neymar's corner from the left made it past the near-post runners and was thighed in at the far post by Thiago Silva. Carlos Sanchez was caught ball-watching as the Brazilian centre-back stole in to finish.
Brazil's second came from a less preventable set piece—David Luiz firing in an unstoppable long-range effort from 30 or so yards out.
On the other hand, Colombia failed to take full advantage of their own set plays.
Numerous corners and wide free-kicks failed to beat the first man, while their direct efforts on goal were generally blocked by the Brazilian wall.
Brazil are a big and imposing side and will hope that their proficiency from set pieces can help usher them toward World Cup glory.
James Rodriguez Will Now Forever Be a Marked Man
Luiz Felipe Scolari was very unhappy about the rough treatment Chile afforded Neymar in Brazil's round-of-16 victory, but he sent his side out to do exactly the same thing to James Rodriguez on Friday.
By the end of the match, the Colombia No. 10 had, as per WhoScored.com, been fouled on six occasions and had seen another couple of questionable challenges on him waved on unpunished.
Fernandinho was the primary hatchet man, while Maicon also had a few nibbles during the second half. Incredibly, neither was booked.
Rodriguez still managed a few neat moments, slipping past challenges into space on the counter-attack. He consistently sought the ball despite the physicality of his markers.
He also reduced Colombia's deficit to one with a calmly taken penalty on 80 minutes.
Few referees will offer him so little protection, yet at the same time, he will have to get used to the close attention of opposing players from now on.
His excellent performances in Brazil have marked him out for special treatment.
Partial Redemption but Also Hurt for Thiago Silva
As per ESPN FC, some members of the Brazilian press had indirectly questioned Thiago Silva's suitability for the captain's armband in the wake of his post-shootout tears against Chile.
There were worries over whether he could be trusted to set the right emotional tone for his teammates and if not, whether that would lead to a repeat of Brazil's quarter-final exit to the Netherlands four years ago.
In that match, Brazil were cruising at 1-0 up only to fall apart after an error from Julio Cesar provided their opponents with a route back into the match. Felipe Melo lost his head and was red-carded.
Silva, however, had insisted that such emotion was to be expected in the circumstances.
The Paris Saint-Germain centre-back hit back at his critics by opening the scoring on Friday, thighing in at the far post from an early Neymar corner.
His celebration had an air of "don't you dare doubt me" to it, and his performance thereafter was generally of a good standard.
However, his yellow card—picked up somewhat foolishly for preventing David Ospina from releasing quickly following a Brazilian set piece—means that he will be suspended for Tuesday's semi-final against Germany.
Presuming Brazil make it, his next appearance, and opportunity for full redemption, will come in the final.
David Luiz Epitomises Brazil's Desire for Success
David Luiz has his detractors—and rightfully so. His occasionally lapse positioning and constant desire to get to the ball first can cause problems for his fellow defenders.
Yet he is also capable of brilliant performances, and that is exactly what he delivered on Friday.
He was on it from the first minute, nipping in to win the ball in front of Colombia's forwards, showing good strength in one-on-one tussles and periodically embarking on strong runs forward out of defence.
Luiz was perhaps a little fortunate not to be pulled up on a couple of occasions when his physicality verged on the illegal. But otherwise this was a strong and assured display from the new Paris Saint-Germain recruit.
His passion erupted in a Marco Tardelli-esque celebration following his truly superb free-kick strike from 30 or so yards that put Brazil 2-0 up on 69 minutes.
That goal proved to be the decisive one, as a penalty from James Rodriguez reduced the Brazilian lead to one going into the final 10 minutes of play.
With captain Thiago Silva suspended for the semi-final, Luiz would be as good a choice as any for the captain's armband.
Brazil Can Still Win Even When Neymar Isn't Heavily Involved
Neymar had a bright first half in Brazil's round-of-16 win over Chile, albeit without a concrete end product. He did, however, fade after the break.
His calmly taken winning penalty masked a below-par performance from the Brazilian No. 10.
He was again not hugely influential on Friday. He linked well with Hulk on a couple of occasions during the first half, but he spent much of his time on the periphery of the match.
Despite this, Brazil still emerged triumphant.
The true test of their ability to cope without him may yet come. Neymar was stretched off late on following a nasty-looking blow to his back.
He seemed to be in some discomfort and may face a race against time to get himself fit and ready for Tuesday's semi-final.