Brazil vs Mexico
The fifth of eight Round of 16 matches was a relatively routine 2-0 win for Brazil over Mexico. Neymar, while continuously showing he’s a terrible role model for young children wanting to get in to the game of soccer, scored one and assisted the other in a game that could have potentially gone the other way.
Despite Brazil’s dominance overall, Mexico did have a few chances, and could have gone ahead if Jesus Gallardo didn’t waste a chance by shooting over the bar.
Meme after meme was created after the game, reacting to Neymar’s quite shocking display of unprofessionalism in trying to get Miguel Layun sent off for an apparent stamp on the Brazilian’s ankle.
In reality, Layun put an extremely light amount of pressure on Neymar’s ankle, for Neymar to them scream to high heaven and roll around in pain as in Layun had taken a chainsaw to it.
It was unfortunately an embarrassing moment in a match where the scoreline will easily be forgotten because of Neymar’s antics. Children growing up and watching soccer will see players doing this and think that it’s an acceptable way to act on the pitch.
Unfortunately, Neymar is the worst culprit for diving and over-acting, and on a big stage like the World Cup, he’s become an embarrassment to watch.
He will feel, of course, that Layun should have been sent off, and pressing his foot down on Neymar’s ankle should well have been at least a booking, but the overreaction from Neymar is starting to have an adverse effect on what referees choose to review.
Referees know to expect this play acting from players like Neymar and others in the Brazilian squad, so they’re much less likely to react to something that may be more serious because they’ve just seen Neymar rolling around on the floor because a blade of grass got caught in his sock.
It’s troubling to see because as referees and players adapt to this, a serious injury could go unnoticed or brushed off as play acting by a referee that has seen it one too many times.
Hopefully there will be some kind of serious punishment made in the future for diving and overreacting like what we saw from Neymar and co, because the current yellow card for simulation does not seem to have stopped or even slowed a growing epidemic in the game.
Belgium vs Japan
This game had it all. A potential shock on the cards with Japan 2-0 up with just over 20 minutes to go, a complete collapse of defensive duties as Belgium scored twice in quick succession to make the game 2-2, and a game winning counter-attack that devastated the Japanese when Nacer Chadli scored in the 94th minute for Belgium to run out 3-2 winners.
Before the tournament, on team sheet alone, Belgium would have been one of the favorites, but after watching this game they have to be serious contenders.
It’s going to take a lot for them to overcome Brazil in the next round, but with the right tactics and level headedness on the day, this Belgium team can beat anybody.
The third goal was an expert counter attack and the pass from the right wing in to the box was left perfectly by Romelu Lukaku who was usually try to blast that in to the back of the net.
His selflessness created the opportunity for Chadli to score and score he did, sending the Belgium team and fans in to a frenzy that must make them believe they can win this World Cup.
Up next for Belgium is Brazil, who I previously mentioned have a habit of being drama queens. Hopefully Belgium can capitalize on this and use it to their advantage as they seek a semi final.
The feel good story of this World Cup has been the Japanese team, however, who apparently completely cleaned the dressing room and left a thank you note to the Russia Football Association for putting on the event.
By all accounts, the Japanese team has done this at each stadium they’ve played at and they are truly an asset to the game, one that the Brazilians could learn from, and it’s a real shame that they won’t be continuing on as they were so close to a quarter final spot.
Sweden vs Switzerland
The BBC described this game as “untidy,” and it was nothing but that. Sweden ended up winning the game 1-0, but overall it wasn’t exactly the game we turn the TV on to watch the World Cup for.
The only goal of the game came from Sweden’s Emil Forsberg in the 66th minute, but each team has plenty of chances before t
his point to make an impact and unfortunately weren’t able to capitalize on them.
The goal itself was a shot that deflected off the Swiss defender and left the goalkeeper with no chance to save.
By the end of the game, the Swiss were left with 10 men when Michael Lang was sent off for pushing the last man just outside the box with nothing to lose.
A penalty was given, but after a review it was changed to a free kick. The red card stood, nonetheless.
At that point, it didn’t matter either way, as the Swedish men were practically already celebrating their win and getting through to the quarter finals.
The Swiss will be upset that they simply weren’t able to break down the Swedes. Tactically, the Swedish put on a show, and were able to hit back at any attack the Swiss tried, and it was quite obvious that they had done their homework prior to the game.
Sweden go on to play England in the quarter finals, and will face a team that has been equally tactically drilled by their manager, so a very exciting and compelling match awaits us in the next round.
Luckily for both teams and their fans, England and Sweden have not fallen foul to the diving and play acting that seems to be a trend with the South American teams at this tournament.
Hopefully it’ll be a great matchup between two teams that are definitely not used to getting this far in the tournament and will have an enormous fanbase behind them.
England vs Colombia
Okay. As you know by now, I’m English and I’m proud to be. I try to stay as impartial as possible when it comes to international soccer because, well, it’s kind of my job. But, when you’re in downtown Minneapolis in Brit’s Bar and you hear “Three Lions” come on the loud speaker after England beat Colombia 4-3 on penalties, something inside of you switches.
As a fan, I’m incredibly happy and overjoyed that England were able to make it to the quarter finals. As a soccer fan overall, I have to denigrate the Colombian team for how they played in this Round of 16 game and how anti-soccer they truly were.
The game itself was hard fought. England had the better of the first 75 minutes, and arguably should have scored more than the one they did in that time.
The Colombian players (without star man James Rodriguez) didn’t seem to know what to do. It was as if they’d come in to the game thinking it would be a walk in the park, and then were shocked that the English gave them a game.
Colombia played on the counter-attack for the majority of the game, and only had their first shot in the dying minutes of the first half.
Harry Kane dispatched yet another penalty kick after being manhandled in the box to make the score 1-0, and all seemed to be going to plan for England until the inevitable happened when Yerry Mina headed in to the ground and the top corner of the goal, leaving England reeling after dominating the majority of the game.
Extra time followed and then penalties, where Colombia were in the hot seat when Jordan Henderson saw his weakly floated penalty saved by the Colombian keeper.
Mateus Uribe smashed his effort against the bar, and Jordan Pickford expertly saved Carlos Bacca’s effort, leaving substitute Eric Dier with the chance to become a hero, which he did by bypassing David Ospina and winning the tie for England.
The win on penalties was a World Cup first for England, who finally broke the curse of penalties and will be hoping that their less than difficult road to the final continues with their next game against Sweden.
If you ask me, it’s coming home!
Ryan Oldham is a Manchester native and a lifelong supporter of Manchester United. It is his fondest wish to see England win the World Cup. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org