THE DAY REPLAYED – The history of football has seen players of all shapes and sizes and of all races and nationalities become legends of the game. Nor has age been an impediment to stardom, as Saturday’s dramatic events at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ proved, with an old stager and a hot young prospect capturing the day’s headlines as the Round of 16 began.
Though born 12 years apart, the two men in question played equally important roles as their sides advanced to the last eight. The first of them is Brazil’s vastly experienced 34-year-old keeper Julio Cesar, who stood tall for his country in a nailbiting penalty shootout against Chile, and the second is Colombia’s 22-year-old rising star James Rodriguez, whose high-quality brace against Uruguay has taken Los Cafeteros into uncharted territory.
Brazil 1-1 Chile (Brazil win 3-2 on penalties) [Budweiser Man of the Match: Julio Cesar (BRA)] Colombia 2-0 Uruguay [Budweiser Man of the Match: James Rodriguez (COL)]
· Anyone who saw Julio Cesar in floods of tears at the end of Brazil’s shootout win over Chile could have been forgiven for thinking he had ended the afternoon as the villain and not the hero. Yet as he later explained, there was a very good reason for his emotional response to a hard-fought win: having been identified by the press as one of the men responsible for Brazil’s quarter-final defeat to the Netherlands at South Africa 2010, the keeper was only too happy to earn some redemption with his two penalty saves against the Chileans.
· “There were a lot of different emotions going through my mind four years ago,” said the Toronto FC custodian. “Not many people know what I went through and what I’m still going through today. Now I’m crying again, but this time out of happiness. I knew my international career wasn’t over. We’ve got three more steps to go now and I want to see Brazil celebrating. That’s my big dream.”
· Chile deserve a big hand for their gutsy performance in Belo Horizonte today, going toe to toe with the hosts right till the end and even having cause to rue their misfortune, with the woodwork twice denying them. First Mauricio Pinilla struck the bar with a thundering drive in the final minute of extra-time, and then Gonzalo Jara saw his fateful spot-kick hit the inside of the post and bounce away to safety, giving Brazil the narrowest of victories.
· James Rodriguez was the man in the spotlight in the day’s second game, scoring both goals as Colombia eased past Uruguay. His first of the evening took the breath away. Chesting the ball down just outside the box, the Cafetero No 10 swivelled and struck a magnificent dipping volley that went in off the underside of the crossbar, giving Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera no chance.
· Colombia’s win took them into the last eight for the very first time, with James, Jackson Martinez, Mario Yepes and Co going one step further then the legendary generation led by Rene Higuita and Carlos Valderrama at Italy 90.
Tweet of the day
5 – the number of goals that James has now scored at Brazil 2014 so far, making him the competition’s leading scorer. In finding the back of the net in every game so far, the Colombian has already matched Thomas Muller’s adidas Golden Boot-winning haul at South Africa 2010.
Netherlands-Mexico, 13:00 Arena Castelao, Fortaleza
Costa Rica-Greece, 17:00, Arena Pernambuco, Recife
Have your say
Can Colombia upset hosts Brazil in the quarter-finals and keep their surprise run going?