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World Cup 2014- And then there were 8

World Cup 2014- And then there were 8
And then there were eight. In a stunning last sixteen round we had five sets off extra time, two penalty shootouts and plenty of underdog heartache as none of the ‘minnows’ managed to topple the favourites.

On day one, Chile came closest when they took Brazil to penalties. The game had been tied at 1- 1 for nearly 90 minutes and it took penalties to separate two exhausted teams. Neymar stepped up under monumental pressure to make it 3- 2 in the shootout, before Gonzalo Jara’s penalty agonizingly struck the post and sent Chile home.

Colombia were impressive winners against a Luis Suarez- less Uruguay as James Rodriguez stole the show, setting up a quarter- final match with Brazil. Colombia are unbeaten in the tournament and will fancy themselves against the hosts for a semi-final berth.

Holland completed an amazing last second rescue mission against Mexico. It looked like we were about to have our first upset but with two minutes to go Wesley Sneijder buried a finish past the phenomenal Guillermo Ochoa, before Klaas- Jan Huntelaar converted a 94th minute penalty ‘won’ by Arjen Robben to send the Dutch through.

They’ll face Central America minnows Costa Rica, who required penalties to overcome Greece and despite gut- wrenching exhaustion after 120 minutes converted all five of their penalties. By far the smallest nation left in the tournament, but they have absolutely nothing to lose against Louis van Gaal’s Holland team.

France left it a little late but saw off Nigeria 2-0 to progress to the quarter-finals, where they’ll meet Germany. It looked like another extra time was on the way before, after a great game, Vincent Enyeama missed a cross which led to Paul Pogba heading into the goals. An unfortunate touch off of Joseph Yobo made it 2-0 and sealed the win for the French.

Algeria took Germany all the way to extra time but it took only two minutes before Germany led, Chelsea’s Andre Schurrle popping up to break the deadlock. It was a tremendous effort from Algeria for 90 minutes and heartbreaking to see them bow out, eventually losing 2-1 after Mesut Ozil doubled Germany’s lead late in extra time and Abdelmoumene Djabou scoring in the 121st minute of football.

Switzerland were another extra-time collapse, lasting until the 118th minute before Argentina finally found the goal. Angel Di Maria curled home the key goal after a trademark Lionel Messi run. They’ll face Belgium in the next round, who had quite a battle with USA.

Kevin de Bruyne put the Belgians in the lead in extra time and Romelu Lukaku soon doubled the lead, but a goal from Julius Green gave the USA a glimmer of hope and had Belgium firmly pinned back for the final ten minutes. Unfortunately they couldn’t find the equaliser, but it may have been the game the USA fell in love with football.

Player of the Round

Nobody has done more for their reputation than Monaco midfielder James Rodriguez. Not a huge unknown, but definitely not a household name. Now he sits atop the goalscoring charts and can make himself a hero against Neymar and Brazil.

He was fantastic against Uruguay, scoring two goals including an outrageous volleyed effort from outside the box.

Goal of the Round

It wasn’t a goalfest in the last sixteen, so the above strike from James Rodriguez is the winner. Taking it down on his chest, he swivels and sends an unbelievable left footed strike past the Uruguayan goalkeeper.

We may have seen one of the greatest penalties ever, too – Charles Aranquiz’s penalty was stunning, but unfortunately it didn’t mean anything.

Five Standouts

Mathieu Valbuena – the Frenchman may be small in stature, but he’s been fantastic for France. In the final group game where he was rested they looked lost without his presence, but he starred against Nigeria and was key to both goals. There’s bound to be a lot of teams interested in the 29- year-old Marseille midfielder.

Divock Origi – you must be good when you’re getting the start ahead of Romelu Lukau. The Lille striker had only two caps going into the World Cup but has appeared and impressed in every game, and looked Belgium’s only threat for most of the game against USA before the aforementioned Lukaku came on and finished the Americans off. If Liverpool do sign him, they may have another Daniel Sturridge-style striker in their hand.

Keylor Navas – the Costa Rica goalkeeper was exemplary in their last sixteen game against Greece. He commanded his box impressively and saved the penalty which eventually sent Costa Rica through, and later revealed that he knew which way Fanis Gekas was going to shoot.

DeAndre Yedlin – he didn’t start against Belgium, but the USA right back was lightning when he came on and caught the eye with his lung bursting runs down the right hand side. The Seattle Sounders player will definitely have raised eyebrows in Europe with his fine all-round performance.

Islam Slimani – the rumour mill is well in gear with Sporting CP striker Islam Slimani, who was the standout star for Algeria in the World Cup.

Article By:

Kevin Coleman: www.back pagefootball.com

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