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World Cup Round Up: Quarter Finals

Dan rounds up all the quarter final action.

Laurence Griffiths

The quality of football has died down some what with the quarter finals, they've been a stain on what other wise has been a remarkable World Cup. But thankfully, they ended quite dramatically.

The first of the four games was contested between France and Germany. The French started the brighter with Karim Benzema hitting a side footed volley, from Valbuena's dinked pass, just wide of the post.

But against the run of play, Toni Kroos' deep free kick in to the box was met by the towering Mats Hummels, who held off Raphael Varane, to flick his header in off the cross bar.

From there on in, the game was quite dire. France had a few chances to draw the game level, with Valbuena, Benzema and Matuidi all shooting from tight angles, but Manuel Neuer looked comfortable with all the efforts, even nonchalantly saving Matuidi's drive with one hand.

France never really looked like scoring, they played with a real lack of urgency and were fortunate to not go two behind when Schurrle hit a shot straight at Lloris, after a quick German counter attack.

The French were knocked out with hardly a whimper, but the German machine steams on, making it to their fourth consecutive World Cup semi-final.

Full Time: France 0-1 Germany

12 - Hummels

MOTM: Mats Hummels

The second game was a bit more exciting, but still not that pleasing on the eyes, as it was a classic South American scrap fought between Brazil and Colombia.

Colombia went into the game much fancied after their showing in the tournament thus far, but it was Brazil who got off to the perfect start when captain, Thiago Silva, capitalised on careless defending from Colombia to bundle in Neymar's conner, with only seven minutes gone, to put the hosts ahead.

Colombia looked slightly stifled by the big occasion and weren't growing into the game, Juan Cuadrado crafted him self a chance and brushed the side netting from twenty yards, but that aside, Colombia looked quite timid.

Brazil themselves were playing a lot better than they have been and they were looking dangerous, Hulk and Neymar combined to slip the former in on goal, but David Ospina was equal to his underwhelming final effort.

Hulk then controlled well from Marcelo's pass back into the box, and this time hit a shot with more conviction, but again Ospina managed to palm the ball away; the Colombian goalkeeper then got up quickly to gather Oscar effort from range.

Brazil had a very impressive opening twenty minutes, easily their best passage of play in the tournament, but as Colombia began to grow into the game more, they showed their dirty, yet extremely smart, side. They hit Colombia's star man, James Rodriguez, several times with hard challenges and he was offered no protection at all by the extremely lenient referee.

Thiago Silva got himself needlessly booked in the second half, when he apprehend Ospina whilst he was in process of kicking the ball out of his hands, the booking means Silva will miss Brazil's semi final clash with Germany.

Colombia were having a good spell and thought they'd equalised when 38 year old, Mario Yepes, swept the ball into the net after a goal mouth scramble, but the goal was chalked off due to an offside in the build up, and I'm not completely sure it was the correct call.

Rodriguez who'd been, as said, at the wrong end of some fairly audacious challenges, was then booked for a weak foul on Hulk, thirty yards from goal.

David Luiz embarked on a lengthy run up, then absolutely smashed the ball side footed into the top corner of the goal, for what was a sublime free kick which Ospina could get no where near to. He went a bit metal after scoring it, obviously.

Colombia continued to try and play their game, and set up an exciting final ten minutes when they pulled a goal back. A lovely, flowing move between Adrian Ramos, Carlos Bacca and Rodriguez ended with Rodriguez releasing Bacca into the box, only for him to be swept of his feet by Julio Cesar, who should have seen more than the yellow card he was given.

Rodriguez stepped up and displayed remarkable guts to stutter in his run up and send Cesar the wrong way, doing all of it with a massive grasshopper on his arm.

Colombia thew everything at Brazil in the dying embers of the game, but Brazil held strong to book their place in the semi final.

Not with out a major, major casualty though. Neymar will miss the rest of the tournament with a fractured vertebrae, after receiving Juan Zuniga's knee in his back. It leaves Brazil in dire straights going in to the game with Germany, as they'll be with out their captain and their only World Class attacker and talisman.

Full Time: Brazil 2-1 Colombia

7 - Silva   80 - James

68 - Luiz

MOTM: David Luiz

The day after, it was the turn of Argentina and Belgium to fight it off for a semi final berth, but just like the first game the day before, it wasn't very good.

The game was only eight minutes old when Argentina went ahead. A wayward pass was deflected into the path of Gonzalo Higuain, who dispatched a sweeping volley which dipped into the bottom corner.

Much like the France and Germany game, very little happened from that point onwards. Kevin de Bruyne forced Romero into a fairly comfortable save, with which was Belgium's only shot on target all game. Lionel Messi went close with a free kick and Jan Vertonghen, Belgium's best attacker, whipped in a dangerous cross which Kevin Mirallas could only head wide from.

Higuain was having a fine game, he did well to advance into the box from the corner of the pitch and his shot was deflected narrowly wide by Daniel van Buyten and then he ran from the halfway line, nut meging Vincent Kompany in the process, and crashed a shot against the cross bar. Which resulted in a rather funny reaction from Argentina manager, Alejandro Sabella, who leaned back in anguish but went too far and stumbled over.

Another Vertonghen cross saw Fellaini head over and Messi could have doubled his side's lead when he raced in on goal after being put through by Fernando Gago's pass, but his nemesis Thibaut Courtois, denied him, meaning it was now eight games in a row in which Messi had failed to score past the young goalkeeper.

Belgium have been a real disappointment this tournament, they've been far too laboured and cumbersome and just like France did the day before, they've gone out with the knowledge that they could have done so much more.

Full Time: Argentina 2-0 Belgium

8 - Higuain

MOTM: Gonzalo Higuain

It had taken three underwhelming games to get here, but at long, long last, we had a good game, in the shape of Netherlands v Costa Rica.

Naturally, the Dutch dominated the games for large spells and it was down to the heroics of Keylor Navas in the Costa Rican goal, to keep the Central Americans in the game.

He was off his line quickly to thwart a Robin van Persie drive, after Memphis Depay teed up the skipper, then he was back up again to clutch on too Wesley Sneijder's tamer effort.

The goalkeeper, who's apparently wanted by Bayern Munich displayed further evidence why he shouldn't be a number two, when he acrobatically tipped away a Sneijder free kick from distance.

It wasn't just the goalkeeper keeping the Dutch at bay, no, a well disciplined and organised back line continued to catch men in orange shirts offside, and did so thirteen times, with the best offside trap I've ever seen.

Costa Rica had an opportunity of their own in the second half, when a deep free kick from Christian Bolanos, was headed over by the really impressive Giancarlo Gonzalez.

Sneijder then lined up another free kick for himself, this time from an acute angle, and it smacked off the post with Navas scrambling.

Costa Rica had their backs against the wall and Navas was called into action again when van Persie finally managed to get his shot away, but the 'keeper saved the powerful effort well.

Van Persie then missed an absolute sitter: Sneijder floated in a wonderfully weighted pass right into his patch, but he completely missed the ball with his volley and it went out for a goal kick.

In what was an extremely tense finale to the game, the ball somehow stayed out of the net. Daley Blind played a low ball into the box, it was completely missed by three dutch attackers and three Costa Rican defenders, before landing at van Persie, his shot was then blocked on the line by Yeltsin Tejeda and deflected onto the cross bar, still the ball wasn't cleared but all Stephan de Vrij could do with it was run it of play. Utter calamity. Amazing.

That meant the game finished 0-0, which was again one of the best 0-0s I've ever seen. This World Cup's had about five of them.

Ron Vlaar had a header palmed away by Navas and then could have given away a penalty, when he bundled over substitute Marco Ureña, but the referee waved play on, although they'd certainly been given in this tournament.

Ureña then had a golden opportunity to win the game for his country: he advanced goal wards a quick change of direction took him away from the Dutch defenders and suddenly he was in on goal, with every underdog loving person in the world on their edge of their seats, making a quick intake of breath in anticipation, but his shot was saved well by Jasper Cillisen.

Netherlands themselves then came within inches of securing the win late on, Wesley Sneijder again hit the woodwork, this time from a bending shot from the edge of the area.

With thirty seconds left, Louis van Gaal then displayed his renowned balls to make a big decisions, when he replaced Cillisen with Tim Krul, just for the impending penalty shoot out.

It turned out to be a stroke of genius.

Krul saved two Costa Rican penalties, whilst the Dutch expertly dispatched all four of theirs to finally win the game 4-3 on spot kicks.

People may say the move was harsh on Cillisen, but ultimately, it's a squad game and important outfield players are substituted at key times in games all the time. Just look at van Persie against Mexico, for example. The move was absolute genius, not because Krul is a better penalty saver than Cillisen, it's because it made the Costa Rican players believe that he was. Van Gaal got inside their heads, and that won Netherlands the shoot out.

So the Dutch go through to complete the semi final card, along with Brazil, Germany and Argentina, it really is anybody's tournament. But we say a tearful farewell to Costa Rica, who will no doubt return home as heroes, which is exactly what they deserve.

Full Time: Netherlands 0-0 Costa Rica

Netherlands win 4-3 on penalties.

MOTM: Keylor Navas.