World Cup quarter finals: 5 things we learned

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Netherlands' Arjen Robben celebrates after the Netherlands defeated Costa Rica 4-3 in a penalty shootout after a 0-0 tie during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match. Photo / AP
Netherlands' Arjen Robben celebrates after the Netherlands defeated Costa Rica 4-3 in a penalty shootout after a 0-0 tie during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match. Photo / AP

Michael Burgess on the five things we learned following the latest action from the World Cup in Brazil.

Brazilians are devastated over Neymar - but haven't lost their sense of humour
The first line of the lead article in Brazil's largest daily - Folha De Sao Paulo - cut straight to the point this morning. "Neymar esta fora da Copa", it proclaimed - (Neymar is out of the Cup). Another newspaper asked "Neymar's gone - and now what?".
The jubilation following the win over Colombia yesterday was short lived, as the shock of Neymar's absence sunk in.
However some fans tried to make light of the situation. One facebook post which went viral read; "Brazil Cup campaign in ruins; Neymar injured, [Captain] Thiago Silva suspended....and Fred comes through okay".
Meanwhile, a television host suggested that the absence of the number ten could throw the German preparations - the Europeans are famous for their fastidious planning - into "complete disarray."

Robben runs beautifully, rolls ugly
Watching Arjen Robben live for the first time today was illuminating. The Dutch forward is a stunning sight in few flight, as he effortlessly peels away from defenders on his slalom runs.
Just when they catch up to him, he can wind down through the gears and accelerate away again. Undoubtedly, with the ball at his feet he is a wizard. But the extravagant diving - and subsequent rolling like he has been shot - is the ugly side of his game.
Once during the first half of today's quarter final he was caught - only just - by a Costa Rican defender near the sideline. The Bayern Munich winger leapt into the air, landed a few metres away, then rolled another ten metres to end up on the edge of the penalty area. It's ugly and unnecessary and one of the reasons why many neutrals hope Argentina can stop Holland on Thursday.

The art of the `nutmeg' is still alive
Despite all the wonderful attacking football at this World Cup, there have been precious few `nutmegs' - where the ball is slipped through a defenders legs by an attacker dribbling a full pace.
It used to be a common sight, but the tight marking of the modern era has made it difficult. However, Gonzalo Higuain rolled back the years with a brilliant manoeuvre to beat Belgian captain Vincent Company today, rated as one of the best defenders in the world. It put the Argentine striker through on goal but he unfortunately grazed the cross bar with his attempt.

Germans grind down fickle French
While a lot of people got excited about the French team during this World Cup - this columnist included - they went out without firing a shot against Germany yesterday. What was meant to be one of the games of the tournament was a strangely flat affair, as France seemed to meekly surrender rather than fight to the death.
It illustrated the value of experience at these tournaments; the French had no one in their team that had played in a World Cup quarter final before. In contrast the current German team is full of players who have experienced big games at World Cups and European Championships.

Brazil is getting the World Cup it deserves
This has been a wonderful tournament - whatever the outcome of the next four games - and definitely one of the best of the modern era. The football has been wonderful, the fans fantastic and the atmosphere inside and outside the stadiums superb. And the locals can take a lot of the credit. They have been superb hosts, and their sheer passion for the sport and the tournament has seemed to enliven players, coaches and supporters alike. Add in superb weather and great stadiums (though far too many) and the recipe is perfect; Brazil is not just hosting the Cup, it is living the Cup.

- Herald on Sunday

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