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World Cup Daily: July 5

A daily update on the action in Brazil
Nick Barbaro, 8:27am, Sat. Jul. 5
Yesterday: a sad injury overshadowed host Brazil’s best game of the tournament, and Germany reached their fourth straight WC semifinal. Coming up today: Argentina and Netherlands are solid favorites to complete the semifinal field, but watch out for their tiny opponents. (Meanwhile, the Austin Aztex can clinch a division title tonight in Midland)

Monday Results

Germany 1 France 0; Brazil 2, Colombia 1
Germany and Brazil both managed to stifle what had looked like the most lively attacking teams in the tournament, though it was costly for Brazil, as Neymar will miss the rest of the tournament after suffering a broken vertebra late in the game. Maybe as bad: influential defender Thiago Silva will miss the semifinal against Germany because of a stupid yellow card he earned for impeding the Colombian goalie as he tried to punt the ball late in the game. It was a deserved yellow card, but Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo could have used more of them earlier; he whistled a tournament-high 51 fouls, but didn’t issue a card until the 65th minute, and Brazil fans will feel it was his letting the game get out of hand physically that led to the brutal knee to the back that put their star out of the tournament (and merited a play-on from the ref and no card issued).

Tuesday’s Games:

11am: Argentina-Belgium
Lionel Messi keeps bailing out Argentina with random acts of individual brilliance, and, who knows, maybe he can keep doing that for three more games, and silence any remaining critics forever. Belgium, I don't know. They had their way with the first round opponents, and totally dominated the U.S., but were they that good, or was the U.S. just that passive, until they got in an 0-2 hole?

3pm: Netherlands-Costa Rica
You gotta love Costa Rica: the only CONCACAF nation still standing, the serious underdog (3000-1 before the tournament) in a richly-pedigreed final eight field, plus there's the whole social thing: eco tourism, no military, great public schools and health care, etc. They even use our dollars! Pura Vida!
That said, it's also a joy to see Holland playing like their old selves.

And looking ahead to the semifinals:

Tuesday, July 8
3pm: Brazil-Germany

Wednesday, July 9
3pm: Netherlands-Argentina??

Next in Sports: World Cup Daily: July 4 »