This World Cup has grown accustomed to attacking, free-flowing football, but there was a sense that caution had taken over as the quarter-final matches kicked off.
Germany vs France led the way as the competition reached the business end, and the two nations competed in a rather anti-climactic match, which saw the Germans reach their fourth consecutive World Cup semi-final, with a 1-0 victory.
In the later game, however, the idea of defensive football was going to be utilise by most countries from here on in was put to bed.
Brazil and Colombia competed in a full-blooded battle, which could have gone either way, but ultimately, saw the host’s confirm their progress to the semi-final with a 2-1 win.
We now take a look at the players who performed best for their countries on day 22 of the World Cup.
Germany’s usual attacking verve was not on display in their game against France, but their typical defensive solidarity was.
One of the major reasons for this was the display of Mats Hummels. The commanding centre-half was a rock at the centre of the German’s backline, stopping most of France’s attacks with ease.
He also scored the crucial goal with a fantastic show of strength and heading ability, glancing in what proved to be the winner in the early stages of the match.
The Marseille man has been made available for transfer this summer and he is likely to have no shortage of suitors after his displays in Brazil.
Valbuena has been the real creative force in this France side and was their best player against Joachim Low’s men, despite their struggles.
It was fitting that Brazil’s captain should settle their nerves in their biggest test of their tournament so far.
Up against a rampaging Colombian front-line, Silva further established his reputation as one of the best defenders in the world and the most reliable of Brazil’s backline.
He showed determination to bundle home the opener, to give Brazil a foundation to build upon, and then was vital in keeping Colombia from creating too many chances throughout the game.
Nobody is more determined to win this World Cup than David Luiz. The PSG centre-half’s face has been etched with desire throughout this competition during the anthems, matches and after the final result.
There is an idea that Luiz’s defending can be slightly calamitous, after his spell at Chelsea, but in a Brazil shirt he looks secure and steady.
He is still capable of the spectacular, though, and his free-kick, which turned out to be decisive, was simply incredible.
Luiz took it in his usual style, side-footing the ball and getting it swerve unpredictably before watching it hit the back of the net and sending the nation into raptures.
Colombia manager, Jose Peckerman, has said that this competition has been James Rodriguez’s World Cup and it is hard to disagree.
The creative fulcrum for his side, Rodriguez has scored in every round of the competition so far and excelled in his attacking midfield role for the side.
Given more responsibility following Falcao’s absence through injury, Rodriguez has thrived and is now considered one of the best players in the world.
He has already moved for €45 million in his burgeoning career so far, but it looks as if he may fetch a considerable amount more in his next transfer if he keeps this form up.
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