With trips to the semifinals on the line, Day 23 of the 2014 World Cup featured a European battle between Germany and France, as well as a South American bout pitting host country Brazil versus Colombia.
Plenty of fixtures have already produced some thrilling results, as we've seen matches finish in extra time or penalty kicks. Neither of those outcomes came to fruition on Friday, but we were still enthralled by two tantalizing contests.
So, which of the four teams in action on Friday will face off in a highly anticipated semifinal showdown?
Let's take a look at the World Cup's updated bracket, followed by the scores and analysis from the Day 23 fixtures.
The full 2014 World Cup bracket can be viewed at FIFA.com.
Day 23 Scores
|Team 1||Team 2||Result|
Germany 1-0 France
Very early in this match, France appeared to be more of the aggressor, attacking with more confidence than the Germans. However, that changed in short order.
Mats Hummels delivered a textbook header to quickly give Germany the 1-0 lead in just the 13th minute of the match. Here's a look at his score, courtesy of Bleacher Report UK:
France had a couple of opportunities later in the half, but Manuel Neuer remained stout in goal.
Here's a great look at one of his eight saves on the day, this one coming against Mathieu Valbuena, courtesy of ESPN FC:
At the half, the score remained 1-0 in favor of Germany. That didn't bode well for France, considering this tweet from ESPN Stats & Info:
#FRA: 0-10-0 when trailing at half of WC game. Only Chile (13) & Hungary (11) have as many WC losses without win/draw when down at halftime.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 4, 2014
France showed a little more aggression in the early portion of the second half, and adjustments were made to get some fresh legs on the field.
Still, the German defense remained stout, and the team's counter attack continued to threaten with Thomas Mueller leading the way.
Hummels continued his solid play, deflecting a near-goal from Karim Benzema to keep his team in the lead.
Squawka Football tweeted Hummels' numbers:
Germany continued to hold the lead and took the match after four minutes of extra time ran off the clock. The victory not only put Germany into the semifinals, but it made some World Cup history as well:
Now, all Germany could do is wait to see who it would face in its next contest.
Brazil 2-1 Colombia
This match figured to be full of excitement, as brilliant scoring forwards Neymar and James Rodriguez took the pitch for Brazil and Colombia, respectively.
Well, it didn't take long for the game's first goal.
Thiago Silva was the last to touch a corner near the far post to give Brazil a 1-0 lead in just the seventh minute. Here's a look at the score:
This goal set up Brazil perfectly, as it would be in perfect position to sit back and maintain its lead against a dangerous Colombian offense.
David Ospina looked solid in goal for Colombia. Hulk and Co. had plenty more chances in the first half. Here's a look at one of them, courtesy of World Soccer Talk:
A very physical match went into the second half with Brazil still leading 1-0. ESPN Stats & Info noted what that meant for the host country:
Speaking of an aggressive match, Silva was booked and will miss his team's next match, according to ESPN FC:
Out of all the 40 fouls, Thiago Silva gets booked for blocking the keeper's punt. And now he'll miss the next match. Captain.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 4, 2014
This comes as a huge blow to Brazil.
Still, the team fought on, and it wasn't long after it scored its second goal of the match.
David Luiz absolutely rifled his free kick into the back of the net in the 69th minute, giving Brazil a nice two-goal cushion. Here's a look at his brilliant strike, via SportingIntelligence:
Ref can't play his cards right. David Luiz can. https://t.co/MmeTuBzrjn— sportingintelligence (@sportingintel) July 4, 2014
Colombia wasn't done though.
Carlos Bacca charged the goal, as Julio Cesar came off the line to challenge him. Cesar connected with Bacca without touching the ball, giving Colombia a penalty kick.
That's where James came in. He took the penalty and scored with ease, pulling his team within one goal. Here's a look at his strike, via World Cup 2014:
Unfortunately for Colombia, it had nothing left, as time ticked away and the host country came away with a one-goal victory.
This result pits Brazil against Germany in what should be a very intriguing semifinal contest.