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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
filmReview: In the face of all-round devastation, even Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson appears a little puny
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bright lights, big city: Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles by dusk
books
Sport
Harry Kane makes Paul Scholes' Premier League team of the season
footballPaul Scholes on the best players, managers and goals of the season - and the biggest disappointments
News
i100
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

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor