Brazil vs Colombia match report World Cup 2014: Thiago Silva and David Luiz score to set up semi-final against Germany

Brazil 2 Colombia 1

Fortaleza

It is not just Brazil’s players who need counselling for their nerves, it is the whole country. They beat Colombia to set up a semi-final between the nation that has won more World Cups than any other and the greatest tournament team in the competition’s history. For Luiz Felipe Scolari it will stir memories of Yokohama 2002 and Brazil’s fifth World Cup.

For everyone else, it was a game to be watched between your fingers. Brazil, who had been two goals up, saw Colombia’s 38-year-old captain, Mario Yepes, bundle the ball home only to be ruled offside and then James Rodriguez convert a penalty for his sixth goal of the tournament after Julio Cesar had brought down Carlos Bacca. Had David Luiz not been the covering defender, Brazil would have been without their goalkeeper for the remainder of this game and the semi-final.

Read more: Neymar out of World Cup
Zuniga defends challenge on Neymar
Lebron James and Gisele among those to react on Twitter

As it is, Scolari will have to take on the Germans without his captain, Thiago Silva, who stupidly got himself suspended and there was the sight of Neymar being taken off on a stretcher in the closing moments that will fill a hundred back pages. The statue of Our Lady of Caravaggio that Brazil’s manager keeps in his dressing room will have to be prayed very hard to.

Given the colour of both teams’ shirts, the stadium was awash with yellow, making the Castelao resemble a vast Liberal Democrat rally, although with rather more prospect of final victory.

 

The home crowds have been criticised for being rather too white and rather too middle-class to be representative of Brazil’s population, particularly in Fortaleza, which was built on sugar and slavery. However, they created a frenzy of noise and expectation almost an hour before the national anthem crashed out. And when Silva put the ball in the net seven minutes later the Castelao screeched like Shea Stadium on hearing the first bars of “Love Me Do”.

Read more: Neymar out of World Cup
Brazil 2 Colombia 1 - as it happened

Given all the talk of how the Selecao were suffocating under the weight of a nation’s demands, Scolari would have craved the early goal. It arrived from Neymar’s corner that, aimed for the head of either Fred or David Luiz, missed both and was directed into the Colombian net off Silva’s thigh. If that makes it sound like a fluke, it was not. Silva’s control as he ran in front of Carlos Sanchez to steer the corner home was rather better than that of the average centre-half.

As someone who had recovered from tuberculosis to play professional football, Silva had been especially angered by the array of former Brazil players who had queued up to condemn the mental weakness of Scolari’s squad in the wake of reports they had been seeing a psychologist.

Twenty minutes into a frenetic first half, Colombia finally broke free with three against one. Juan Cuadrado, who had provided more assists than anyone else in this World Cup, played what would have been a familiar ball to Rodriguez, Silva intercepted.

Seen through the suffocating prism of the Brazil training camp in the hills above Rio de Janeiro, the Colombian squad that hitherto had won all its games with alarming ease might have seemed a deeply menacing threat. And yet they appeared unnerved by the grand theatre the Castelao had become. In a compelling first half that saw both teams flailing at each other, only Cuadrado, who sent one shot whistling past Julio Cesar’s post, lived up to his billing.

Thiago Silva puts Brazil 1-0 ahead in Fortaleza Thiago Silva puts Brazil 1-0 ahead in Fortaleza

For all Jose Pekerman’s work in rebranding Colombia from a team of glittering individuals who fell apart at the first sign of resistance into something altogether tougher, it had been 23 years since they last beat Brazil. England have a better record against Germany and this always seemed a psychological hurdle Colombia would be hard pressed to overcome.

As he sat in the Castelao’s press room on Thursday, telling anyone who did not like the way he was running the team that they could “go to hell”, Scolari predicted this would be a very different game from the round of 16 tie in Belo Horizonte. Games against Chile, Uruguay and, especially Argentina, too often “became wars”, he said. This would be no war.

Big Phil was, however, not about to take any chances. Fernandinho roughed up Pekerman’s two most obvious threats, Cuadrado and Rodriguez, while somehow escaping a yellow card. At the other end, Hulk twice forced David Ospina into reaction saves.

Tactically, the game that began with Scolari dropping Dani Alves at right-back in favour of Maicon, who had been as much an embarrassment at Manchester City as Jo, was something of a mess. If there were formations, they disintegrated and nothing summed up the match better than Luiz dispossessing Teofilio Gutierrez near his own penalty area and then running forward in a mad, frantic dash that finished deep in the Colombian half, where he was almost wrestled down by Cristian Zapata.

It was nothing at all compared to the run Paris St Germain’s most expensive defender launched into midway through the second half that finished with him kneeling by the corner flag pointing two fingers at the night sky that, at that moment, was alive with bats and flashbulbs.

There has been plenty said about the lack of fantasy in Scolari’s teams but the free-kick delivered from 25 yards that curled and dipped beneath Ospina’s crossbar was the equal of anything Rivellino produced in the immortal World Cup of 1970.

There had been, however, plenty more wrestling after the interval as Cuadrado, having been repeatedly fouled, bundled Neymar over. The free-kick came to nothing but it produced something that may have profound consequences for the semi-final. As Ospina went to punt the ball up field, Silva knocked it out of his hand and received a booking that would ensure he would be missing against Germany. If he were watching the game with his familiar cigarette in the team hotel, Joachim Löw would have stubbed it out in the knowledge that his array of attacking midfielders might play havoc with Brazil’s defence. Scolari simply stood, hands on hips.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game