Colombia finally had to wake up from its sweetest World Cup dream after losing to Brazil 2-1 in the quarter-finals, but it can certainly keep its head up high.
In the end, the host and five-time world champion found the path to stop and beat the most spectacular team in the tournament.
The best—and the worst—of this Brazil had to come out in order to get Colombia eliminated.
The pressure in all zones of the field from Brazil caused Colombia to give away the ball and the much needed midfield transition for Colombia became absent. Also, Brazil continually used the unsportsmanlike fouling resource to cut Colombia’s game, especially in the midfield. The referee never punished the Brazilians accordingly, allowing for more fouls to take place.
James Rodriguez, the engine of Colombia, couldn’t get in the game on a frequent basis during the first half. Rodriguez had to pull back to get the ball, but the Brazilians constantly had at least one player close to him even when he didn’t have the ball.
However, in the second half when Rodriguez found a way to get between the Brazilian lines, he was stopped by fouls.
Rodriguez and Colombia showed they have more than just football; they also have spirit. When they found themselves down by two goals, with a frenetic Castelao chanting in favor of the Selecao, Colombia refused to die.
The Colombian No. 10 had one last trick, with a clinical assist to Carlos Bacca that ended with a penalty kick call. James transformed the penalty into a goal, but the comeback came up short.
Even in defeat, this Colombia showed greatness by never giving up. It is not very often you are going to see Brazil’s coach desperately asking the referee to whistle the end of the game.
Overall, despite who ends up winning this World Cup, Colombia played the best football in the tournament. That will be impregnated in the minds of everyone who can see beyond the final score and appreciates the artful football practiced by Colombia.
This has been Colombia’s most successful World Cup run, one that in a way won the side infinite praise for its impressive offensive style and fan support from all over the planet. And no one can take that away from this side.
No one who watched this World Cup will forget the magic displayed by James Rodriguez, or Cuadrado’s skill, or Yepes putting his heart and soul in every play, or that in a country where Samba dominates, it was the Bachata-Salsa dancing celebrations that reigned.
James Rodriguez’s tears at the end of the game are the tears of a newborn football legend and are also the ones of all of us who will have to see the last week of the World Cup without the magnificent playmaker.
Rodriguez's transcendence in the tournament has been such that his rivals David Luiz and Dani Alves came to comfort him. Eventually, David Luiz did something that is unusual to see. The Brazilian center-back pointed at James asking for the crowd to give the Colombian an ovation.
Brazil 2014 is defined by many images of exquisite Colombian football. This Colombia has to be proud of what it has done and look up to the bright future in front of it.
Current generations of Colombian footballers and fans will no longer have to conform to hearing about the legendary Carlos Valderrama and that generation’s brilliant days back in the late '80s and early '90s. Now, they are living their own golden age, one they can tell from personal experience to future generations.
As football fans, we owe many of our 2014 World Cup memories and football anecdote repertoires to James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado, Mario Yepes, Pablo Armero, David Ospina, Faryd Mondragon, Jose Pekerman and everyone else in this Colombia.