It's high drama time as the 2014 World Cup marches through the knock-out rounds, with the Germans once again beating their perennial foes - the French - to advance and break French hearts. No matter the venue - on and off the field - it just seems that Germany finds a way around France. While Die Mannschaft advanced in an efficient, 1-0 victory over Les Bleus, their semi-final opponent - host nation Brazil - advanced by dropping a plucky Colombian side, 2-1, but the win came at an extremely high cost.
The Seleção will not only be without captain Thiago Silva following an extremely stupid yellow card that will suspend him for the date with Germany, but are going to be without their star man, their leading attacker and goal-scoring threat, the most loved man in Brazil - Neymar - who went down with a broken vertebrae on a rash challenge from Colombian defender Juan Zuniga, who probably should never return to Brazil if he wants to keep his head on his body, and should have seen at least a yellow card for kneeing the young Brazilian hit man from behind. So, while the Brazilians will advance (despite the efforts of break-out star James Rodriguez), the price they paid will likely come to cost them dearly against the German machine.
Today, we get our football fix started with La Albiceleste of Argentina taking on the Red Devils of Belgium this morning at 9 a.m. PST on ABC/ESPN2, which features the marquee match-up of Lionel Messi, widely considered the world's greatest player, versus Chelsea's electric winger Eden Hazard, who is tipped to be a serious Ballon d'Or contender in a few years' time. Messi, who is shouldering the expectations of his nation, has won everything to be won on the club level, but now looks to cement his legacy by bringing Argentina their third World Cup title.
Once the Argentinians and Belgians settle who will advance, the Oranje revolution looks to continue this afternoon against Los Ticos of Costa Rica. The Netherlands will look to add another CONCACAF scalp to their collection, after gleefully eliminating El Tri in the Round of 16, following Rafa Marquez's clear-cut foul on Arjen Robben that led to the game-winning penalty kick by Klaas Jan Huntelaar. Led by Manchester United's Robin van Persie, the Dutch will take on a Costa Rican side that has surprised many by not only advancing, but finishing on top of a group that featured England, Italy, and Uruguay. Los Ticos pulled off a miracle by withstanding a withering Greek assault on their goal to force penalty kicks after going down to 10 men in the 66th minute, but stopping Greece is a much easier task than stopping the Dutch - who will throw van Persie, Robben, Memphis Depay, and Wesley Sneijder at them, an attacking quartet that is leaps and bounds better than Greece. After all, the Netherlands' reserves (Huntelaar, Kuyt, etc.) would not just start for a side like Greece - they'd be the team stars. The smart money, obviously, is on Oranje but this World Cup has been anything but what we'd expect, although one suspects Los Ticos' luck has finally run out. They'll get underway at 1 p.m. PST on ESPN.
Our boys in Red, White, and Blue are out of the tournament, but the road to the World Cup in 2018 begins now, plus we have the CONCACAF Gold Cup to prepare for next summer, followed by us hosting the 100th edition of the Copa America during the summer of 2016. So, if you came out for the Yanks for the World Cup, stick around for a while - it won't be much longer before our boys are back and fighting for trophies for the Stars and Stripes.
Alright folks, it's time to tune in to see who will be meeting in the semi-final - will Belgium continue their "dark-horse" run to the top? Will the Messi-iah lead La Albiceleste to glory? Will the Oranje find their dominating form that they opened against Spain with, or will they struggle as they did against an also-ran Mexican side? Will Los Ticos continue to shock the world? This is your quarterfinal World Cup open thread, so fire away with your thoughts, analysis, and opinions as you tune in today.