penalties
semi-finals

quarterfinals

Uruguay-France. First, a tip of the cap to El Maestro, Óscar Tabárez, in what is probably his last match in charge. It wasn't a great match ... even if Edinson Cavani had been available, it's unlikely Uruguay would have stopped what is looking like a French onslaught. The first half was fairly even until Raphael Varane's late goal, and once France picked up a second on the howler from Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera, it was over. Antoine Griezmann had a goal and an assist. I picked the winner in this one, I just didn't know it would be this easy.

Brazil-Belgium. Another case where the winner seems unbeatable in retrospect. Belgium went up 2-0 after half an hour, and Brazil fought hard ... in the second half, Brazil took 17 shots, Belgium took one. But Belgium had Thibaut Courtois in goal, and he picked a good time to have his best game of the World Cup so far. This may have been the best match of the tournament so far, with Belgium deserving their early lead and Brazil charging forward in the second half. I would have liked to see more of Douglas Costa for Brazil ... he only played 77 minutes in the tournament. At one point, Andres Cantor looked at the players on the field and said with admiration, look at all the talent out there! He was right, this was a good match for fans of starpower within the context of powerful teams ... Messi and Ronaldo only wishes they had such teammates.

Sweden-England. It's hard to say if this match or Uruguay-France was the worst of the quarterfinals, but that's really unfair ... both matches were decent enough. But in both cases, the 2-0 final score was appropriate. France and England deserved to advance, and the drama inherent in a World Cup quarterfinal made these good to watch. But they took a back seat to the other two matches.

Russia-Croatia. I didn't have a rooting interest here, and it's always tough to lose by penalties. Russia's performance was one of the best stories of this World Cup. But, in the end, I'm glad Croatia won. France, Belgium, England, Croatia ... these are strong teams and we should get good semifinal matches. Russia wasn't really up to their level, which to some extent is why their story was so impressive. If I was rooting for anyone, it was Luka Modric, who was frighteningly good in this one. In the 30 minutes of extra time, when everyone was exhausted, Modric was still running around getting things done. Very impressive.



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