World Cup 2014: Winners and Losers from Day 23
Day 23 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup saw the final eight reduced to the last six.
In Rio de Janeiro, Mats Hummels overcame illness to put in a Man of the Match performance against France and help Germany into the semi-finals of the competition.
In Fortaleza, an inspired crowd at the Castelao cheered on Brazil as the host nation scraped by Colombia and set up a semi-final showdown with the Germans.
Here are the biggest winners and losers from another intriguing day of World Cup play.
Winner: Joachim Low, Who Moved Philipp Lahm to Right-Back
A virus that spread through the Germany camp no doubt influenced his decision, but Joachim Low’s transferral of Philipp Lahm from midfield to right-back was one of the keys to Die Mannschaft’s 1-0 win over France on Friday.
Against Nigeria, Les Bleus had been able to create numerous goalscoring opportunities through wide attackers Antoine Griezmann and Mathieu Valbuena. But Lahm and left-back Benedikt Howedes blocked off their routes in Rio de Janeiro, and in the end, Germany made the most of the flanks.
Over the 90 minutes at the Maracana, Lahm touched the ball nearly 90 times and completed 89 percent of his passes while winning all of his aerial battles, per WhoScored.com.
“We played well; we played with a compact defense,” Low remarked after the match, according to the BBC. “They had some long balls against us but we did a classy job taking care of those...We didn’t have any organisation problems.”
Loser: Samir Nasri’s Girlfriend, Who Took to Twitter After the France Defeat
Until mid-May, few people knew who Anara Atanes was. Granted, they may have recognised her from her various modelling jobs, but they might not have placed her alongside boyfriend Samir Nasri.
Atanes set off her first firestorm when Nasri was omitted from the France squad for the World Cup, unleashing a profanity-laden tirade at manager Didier Deschamps on Twitter, as per The Independent.
Predictably, she took to social media following Les Bleus’ elimination from the tournament, tweeting that France had gone out because it lacked top-calibre players.
“Ooooppsiiiiiie! And thats the reason u need ur world class players!” she posted.
Winner: Mats Hummels, Who Overcame Sickness to Star for Germany
Mats Hummels didn’t even travel to Porto Alegre for Germany’s round-of-16 encounter with Algeria. Sidelined with a virus, the central defender watched the match on television like everyone else.
Four days later, however, Hummels starred for Germany against France—heading Toni Kroos’ free kick into the back of the net for what proved to be the game’s only goal and contributing numerous interventions on the defensive side of the ball.
Less than a minute before scoring, for example, the 25-year-old dug out Antoine Griezmann’s cross intended for Karim Benzema. He then blocked Benzema’s goal-bound effort late in the first half and also denied the Real Madrid striker a shot on goal with 14 minutes remaining.
Loser: France-Germany, Which Failed to Live Up to Expectations
The first European derby at the Maracana was a dud, albeit a high-profile one.
Tongues had been waving ever since France and Germany were paired together in one of Friday’s quarter-finals, and given both the footballing history of the two nations and their form at the 2014 World Cup, it was easy to see why.
But the match failed to live up to either the hype or well-founded expectations of viewers. Following Mats Hummels’ opener in the 12th minute, there were precious few goalscoring chances of any quality, and France, in general, disappointed on the day.
Thankfully, Friday’s other contest was an intense, breathless affair that had even neutrals on the edges of their seats.
Winner: David Luiz, Who Scored a Spectacular Winner for Brazil
Colombia were pouring it on when David Luiz stepped over a dead ball, and with 22 minutes remaining, it looked as though Brazil would struggle to hold onto their 1-0 lead.
But then James Rodriguez was penalised for a foul on Hulk, and the host nation had a free kick.
Rather than Neymar or Oscar, it was centre-back Luiz who did the honours, and his perfectly-struck effort dipped up and over the wall before beating David Ospina to the goalkeeper’s left-hand corner.
In the end, Brazil would have need of David Luiz’s goal, as Rodriguez’s 80th-minute penalty conversion cut the Colombian deficit in half once more.
Loser: Thiago Silva, Who Got Himself Needlessly Booked Against Colombia
Thiago Silva could have been a hero of Friday’s quarter-final.
After less than seven minutes, the Brazil captain had his side in front—his conversion of Neymar’s corner finding the back of the net with nary an opponent in sight.
And then, midway through the first half, the Paris Saint-Germain defender cut out Juan Cuadrado’s dangerous ball and turned play back downfield.
But a moment of madness just after the hour-mark put the 29-year-old into the book and out of next week’s semi-final against Germany.
With Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina about to release the ball, Thiago Silva intentionally got in the way and was shown a yellow card for the offense. Silva knew what he was doing, it was cynical, but it was also needless as there did not seem to be any obvious, imminent danger to Brazil.
"Thiago Silva, you daft 'aporth," ESPNFC's John Brewin tweeted.
He will now miss Tuesday’s match in Belo Horizonte due to his suspension.
Winner: The Castelao Crowd, Who Served as a 12th Man
New Zealand has its Haka; Brazil has its yellow Castelao.
On Friday in Fortaleza, the partisan crowd did its job in both cheering on its side and intimidating the opponent. As a result, they can take some credit for Brazil’s progression to a first World Cup semi-final since 2002.
Right from the national anthem—which the Castelao fans sang with gusto—it seemed as though there was something special happening. When Brazil came quickly out of the gates, it was clear Colombia were struggling with the atmosphere.
The Selecao are headed back to Belo Horizonte for their semi-final against Germany, but no doubt they would be playing it in Fortaleza if they had their way.
Loser: Carlos Velasco Carballo, Who Lost the Plot
A World Cup quarter-final is hardly the time for poor refereeing, but that’s exactly what Brazil and Colombia got from Carlos Velasco Carballo on Friday.
Initially, it seemed as though the Spaniard would keep his cards hidden for the entire 90 minutes. Vicious fouls by Fernandinho on James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado on Neymar had gone unpunished, and with intensity building, the 43-year-old looked certain to lose control of the match.
He didn’t in the end, but he didn’t cover himself in glory, either.
Under Carballo's guidance, neither side knew what was a foul and what wasn't. The lack of consistency will almost certainly put him, like his countrymen, out of the World Cup.