The goals may not have been as free-flowing as in prior rounds, but the quarter-finals of the World Cup certainly were not short of drama.
Germany were first to qualify, squeezing past France in a rather anti-climactic match, before Brazil beat Colombia to secure their progress to the semi-finals.
The following day’s action featured a win 1-0 win for Argentina over Belgium, before the Netherlands completed the semi-final line-up by beating Costa Rica on penalties.
Here, we now look at the players who excelled for their nations in the quarter-final match-ups.
Germany may have not been at their best against France, but their performance was based on building a solid foundation at the back and one of the major reasons they did this successfully was because of Hummels’ performance.
The Borussia Dortmund centre-back was imperious throughout and scored what turned out to be the winner with a fantastic header from an early free-kick.
The Brazilian centre-back has created a reputation for himself as being a technically brilliant but erratic centre-back during his club career.
During this World Cup, though, he has looked solid defensively without losing any of his ability to perform the spectacular.
He has arguably been Brazil’s best player so far and his free-kick against Colombia, which proved decisive, will surely be a contender for goal of the tournament.
Much had been made of Argentina’s attacking talents prior to this World Cup but, with the exception of Lionel Messi, few of their offensive stars have turned up so far.
In the quarter-final stages, this all changed, as Higuain stole the limelight away from the Barcelona star.
He scored the winner in supreme style, spinning and volleying the ball into the back of the net from the edge of the area and it seemed to give him the confidence to turn in his best performance of the tournament so far.
Costa Rica’s run to the quarter-finals has been one of the most notable stories that this World Cup has created and nobody offered more to their cause than Navas.
The Levante stopper was in fine form for the entirety of the tournament and his saves kept the Dutch at bay for 120 minutes.
Unfortunately he wasn’t able to carry his excellent shot-stopping displays into the spot-kicks, but his nation leave the competition unbeaten in normal time and can be very proud of their efforts.
Krul’s name has been written into World Cup folklore after his unlikely heroics in the Netherlands' penalty shoot-out victory.
The Newcastle ‘keeper was brought on for Jasper Cillessen in the 120th minute of the match because Louis van Gaal felt he was a better penalty stopper than the custodian who had played every prior minute of his nation’s tournament so far.
And it worked. Although it may seem a strange choice as a star of the day, nobody stuck to their designated task better than Krul – who pulled off two excellent stops to help the Oranje progress.
Krul may not play another a minute of this World Cup, but if the Netherlands are to lift the coveted trophy at the end of it, nobody will have played a more vital role.
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