I need to write this now, only a few minutes after Brazil-Colombia … there will be a time for reflection and analysis, but I want to get the emotional impact.
First, there was another match, France 0-1 Germany. Germany played more like the team I used to hate than the team I’ve come to enjoy, and I found the match a bit of a snoozer. Ran and took a nap as soon as it was done.
Brazil-Colombia turned out to be every bit as exciting as we’d hoped. But it was a different kind of excitement. Both teams came to score, and there was a lot of running around in the first half. Brazil felt dominant, but Colombia wasn’t playing in a shell, so there was always the possibility they’d steal a goal. Brazil’s 1-0 lead at the half was a fair one, but I couldn’t predict what was to come … Colombia might score three, or they might expose their defense in the midst of all-out attacking play and allow three.
Brazil had a canny strategy. There were a lot of fouls in the game … a LOT … but no cards were issued in the first half. So Brazil just kept fouling. They were as clever about it as Ric Flair. They never committed anything too obviously horrible. They just stopped Colombia’s attacks by interrupting them with fouls … little fouls, this ref had shown he wasn’t likely to card them, just enough to stop play. So Colombia struggled to find a rhythm.
Then, after James Rodríguez had spent much of the match being fouled, he was called for a very soft foul of his own. That led to the gorgeous free kick from David Luiz. As I said to someone at the time, “ref is having such a bad game, and BRA are being so near-thuggish, that I didn't take joy from that beautiful free kick ... that pisses me off”.
None of this should hide the fact that the match was still totally exciting, especially given the context (quarterfinals). I am not sure about Colombia’s disallowed goal, so I’ll leave that aside. But when Julio César brought down Bacca in the box, he deserved a red card. He got yellow.
I’d say there was bias involved, except 1) I’m not a believer in conspiracy theories, so outside of the possibility that the referee was intimidated by the atmosphere, I don’t think he was pro-Brazil, just bad, and 2) with the game almost over, Neymar got wiped out (as I type this, he’s been sent to the hospital, which may mean nothing or may mean everything), and no foul was given by the ref.
My emotions are mixed. This match had everything, including stuff I don’t like to see. I got my favorite 2-1 scoreline … I should be ecstatic right now. But my joy disappeared somewhere along the way.
I reacted to the post-match period with equally mixed emotions. Seeing David Luiz and a teammate console a sobbing James was heartrending, and as he pointed to James, signaling to the crowd to give respect to the Colombian, I about lost it. When they exchanged jerseys, that really got things going. It was one of the most beautiful moments I’d seen at a soccer match.
But when Nooruddean re-tweeted the already-iconic photo of Luiz pointing to James, instead of using the caption “David Luiz instructs the crowd to applaud James Rodriguez, who leaves the World Cup as the top scorer,” Nooruddean wrote, “Sickening image of David Luiz informing Fernandinho that James Rodriguez is still alive.”
And it sums up the entire match that I understood both captions.