Sputnik 2018: Neymar blanked by VAR as Brazil tumble out; France, Belgium advance to all-Euro semis 

EPL Infrafred Sauna

Mr Live Wire has not seen so many disappointed faces in yellow jerseys since the 2015 General Elections.

For the fourth straight tournament, perennial World Cup favourites, Brazil, failed to navigate their way to the final, as the five-time champions tumbled out in the quarters after a 2-1 loss to Belgium in Kazan.

Photo: Belgium midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (right) rifles home during their 2-1 World Cup quarterfinal win over Brazil on 6 July 2018.
(Copyright FIFA/Getty)

The “Samba Boys” join Uruguay in the departure lounge, after their South American colleagues were kayoed 2-0 by France this morning. All six nations still involved in the Russia 2018 World Cup are from Europe.

It is only the second time in 30 years that a South America nation failed to advance to the semifinals of a World Cup—after a similar dismal showing by the continent in Germany 2006.

Uruguay, arguably, had one foot in the grave from the kickoff, once it became clear that Edinson Cavani would not start upfront alongside star forward Luis Suarez.

Uruguay without Cavani and Suarez is like crix without cheese, chicken without chips, doubles without a red Solo, Colm Imbert without… Well, eh…

Photo: Where everybody? I thought this was the Year for Love?

Anyhow, Uruguay played positively but were as blunt as a plastic knife without half of their one-two offensive punch. And, for the first time ever in a World Cup match he was involved in, Suarez failed to touch the ball in the opposing penalty box while he did not register a single attempt at goal.

The South Americans were always going to be in trouble then, when Raphael Varane put France ahead with a thumping header off an Antoine Griezmann free kick in the 40th minute.

Thirty-two year old Uruguay custodian Fernando Muslera would not want to remember France’s second item, though, which he gifted to Griezmann.

Let’s just say that there are drunk, middle aged men who produced better blocks in their first attempt at beach volleyball.

The fresh-faced France team were supposedly too raw and inexperienced to be considered serious contenders beforehand. How ridiculous those pessimistic forecasts seem now with Kylian Mbappé delivering cut and thrust upfront, backed admirably by  Paul Pogba in midfielder and Varane and Samuel Utiti in central defence—all 25 years young and less.

Photo: I can’t believe it’s not butter!
Uruguay custodian Fernando Muslera fails to hold on to a shot from France attacker Antoine Griezmann during their World Cup quarterfinal clash on 6 July 2018.
(Copyright FIFA/Getty)

Not to forget, of course, their little energiser bunny N’Golo Kanté, who might be the only footballer with his own teleport machine.

France coach Didier Deschamps’s team still has not moved into fourth gear. If “Les Bleus” put pedal to the floor before 15 July, though, woe to the team that is facing them at the time.

Belgium would be forgiven for feeling that they have already faced the best team in the competition and lived to tell the tale. That is debatable, particularly after today.

Brazil played well and dominated large periods of the second half. But the way the men in yellow snatched at shots and kicked into defensive blocks hinted at an internal insecurity, as—for the first time this tournament—the Samba Boys faced an opponent that could look them square in the eyes.

While Uruguay were hobbled by a rejig of their starting team, it might have been the opposite for Belgium, as Manchester City maestro Kevin De Bruyne received an advanced role for the first time under coach Roberto Martinez.

Photo: France defender Raphael Varane (centre) celebrates his team’s opening goal during their World Cup quarterfinal clash with Uruguay on 6 July 2018.
(Copyright Michael Zemanek/Shutterstock)

Thus far, Martinez has been like kryptonite to the talented Belgian. De Bruyne scored 12 times in his first three years as an international. But, since Martinez took over in 2016, he scored just twice before today—both in friendlies against Switzerland and Saudi Arabia respectively.

Within 90 seconds, the pale playmaker was almost celebrating the opener, as he held off opposing midfielder, Fernandino—his club teammate at City—before fizzing a shot inches wide. Both men would eventually be instrumental to the final result.

In the 13th minute, Fernandinho inadvertently diverted a corner kick past his own custodian, Alisson, after being distracted by the movement of giant Belgium captain Vincent Kompany.

Brazil could just as easily have been ahead by that stage. Defender Thiago Silva hit the Belgium upright off a Neymar corner kick while Paulinho miskicked off a Willian set piece.

Luck and character are key factors in tournament football. This was the first time that Brazil trailed in a match under current coach, Tite, in over a year—and they lost that game 1-0 to Argentina. Could the yellow men recover?

Photo: Brazil midfielder Fernandinho (third from left) inadvertently deflects a Belgian corner kick past his own goalkeeper during their World Cup quarterfinal clash on 6 July 2018.
(Copyright FIFA/Getty)

The gap widened instead in the 31st minute, as Belgium countered from a Neymar corner with Lukaku storming through the centre of the Brazil midfield before laying up De Bruyne for an exquisite second item.

The last time Brazil recovered from a two-goal deficit in a World Cup match was in 1938; and somehow you didn’t get the feeling that Tite’s boys quite had it in them.

To their credit, they gave it a good go, though. Belgium custodian Thibaut Courtois was in fine form at the back while midfield ace Philippe Coutinho and substitute Renato Augusto both missed presentable chances.

Coutinho and Renato did combine for Brazil’s only goal, which came in the 76th minute with the latter producing a clinical headed finish off a cross from the former player. But it was not enough.

And what of attackers Neymar and Gabriel Jesus—the men expected to deliver the goals in Brazil’s march to a sixth title?

Photo: Brazil star Neymar (centre) tries to keep the ball from Belgium midfielder Alex Witsel (right) during their World Cup quarterfinal clash on 6 July 2018.
(Copyright FIFA/Getty)

Neymar was always involved and did not shirk his responsibility; but he never quite stretched the opposing backline either. And he and Jesus were caught out by theatrical tumbles in the opposing area, after initiating contact themselves.

For Jesus, who failed to score in five starts at the Russia World Cup, his hopeful flop to the ground might sum up his tournament. Let’s just say that the last time Brazil lifted the trophy, a certain Ronaldo was wearing the number nine shirt.

Neymar’s own moment of reckoning came in the 90th minute, as he tried to get on the end of a Fagner cross but fell to the ground instead; screaming, as always, for the intervention of VAR.

Neymar had tried to trick Serbian referee Milorad Mazic before. And, since the Brazilian was cautioned earlier in the competition, he would have been suspended if Mazic booked him then for simulation.

So, in the 90th minute, Mazic might have remembered that Neymar dive, along with a catalogue of his absurd overacting throughout the competition. Could he be sure that the Brazilian was being honest at this crucial stage of the match?

Photo: Brazil forward Neymar reacts to the final whistle, after his team’s 2-1 loss to Belgium in World Cup quarterfinal action on 6 July 2018.
(Copyright FIFA/Getty)

F*** that! Mazic decided to leave it up to VAR.

Italian Daniele Orsato was the main man in the studio today, entrusted with reviewing the penalty shout. However, the VAR does not intervene unless there is a strong suggestion that the referee got it wrong.

Belgium right wing back Thomas Meunier did give Neymar a little push as the two shaped to go after the ball. Was it enough to overrule Mazic?

Orsato decided, like Mazic, to stray on the side of caution. Like the boy who cried wolf, Neymar could not find a sympathetic ear when he and his country needed it most.

And, with that, it was Bye Bye Brazil. Cue a stampede of ‘O Brasil’ supporters to the French bandwagon.

As Melville Foster would sagely put it, a bunch of blasted Neymarkarams!

Photo: Yuh okay hoss?!

World Cup 2018


(Friday 6 July)

France 2 (Raphael Varane 40, Antoine Griezmann 61), Uruguay 0, Nizhny Novgorod;

Brazil 1 (Renato Augusto 76), Belgium 2 (Fernandinho OG 13, Kevin De Bruyne 31), Kazan;

(Saturday 7 July)

Sweden v England, 10am, Samara;

Russia v Croatia, 2pm, Sochi.

Photo: Giant Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku (right) takes Brazil defender Miranda for a run during their World Cup quarterfinal clash on 6 July 2018.
(Copyright FIFA/Getty)


(Tuesday 10 July)

France v Belgium, 2pm, Saint Petersburg;

(Wednesday 11 July)

Sweden/England v Russia/Croatia, 2pm, Moscow.

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  1. Yeah yeah take yuh loss and go home. Steups

  2. He cried wolf too many times!!!!!!!

  3. He was only crying wolf all the time so when he truly needed it they dont care if it true or false

  4. Respect the position taken by authority! Dry your tears ! Move on with your life . God is in control

  5. How many fouls were afficted on Neymar?

  6. I cannot agree that Neymar was of any real use to this Brazilian team. From the beginning he played the part of Diva and with his role play…Or is it ‘roll’ play,fitted the part perfectly. He never shook up any defence or had any memorable moments except the ‘pretty’ boy look. That however does not win matches far less world cup quarter finals. Once he continues to play act he remains overrated and by extension overpaid. You don’t pretend with talent!

  7. Brazil may have the most WCs, but Europeans over South Americas is a safer bet. Having said that, Uruguay must be the best team per capita. High expectations on them but most forget they have have a 3.4M population.

  8. A list of the nations Brazil defeated at the World Cup since 2002: Croatia (twice), Australia, Japan, Ghana, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Chile (twice), Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Serbia, Mexico.
    They drew with: Portugal, Mexico and Switzerland.
    They lost to: France, Netherlands (twice), Germany and Belgium.
    Can anyone take a close look at teams Brazil defeated in last 12 years and point out the top dogs they kayoed?

    • Rudd name a team that has done well during that period and I will tell you which team they beat.
      Off the top of my head, Spain, Netherlands, France, Argentina and Germany have all taken scalps since then.
      But what does it matter? I’d think brazil fans would be more curious about their own team.
      How can you expect to win a World Cup without beating a big team?

    • England haven’t beaten a big side yet this tournament. Remarkably they might not face a real A lister until the final. That’s extraordinary yes.

  9. Neymar should have been given cards for diving no one mentioned that enjoy your trip

  10. They should say that VAR is for European teams only. Two clear cut cases of penalty did not get reviewed bcuz it was for Brazil.

    • All penalty shouts are reviewed automatically by VAR. If they say something for the referee to look at, they would contact him.

    • It supposed to be that way. According to ESPNFC, their was some sort of miscommunication between the guys in the room and the referee. It was a clear cut case for a penalty. And I would reiterate, the European teams are the one benefitting from it..Brazil vs Swiss, the goal should have been disallowed. That’s only one example, there are others, but can’t recollect. Anyway thanks for your respose..Cheers.

    • Vick if ESPN said that they were wrong. And that’s a ridiculous statement by them.
      There was no miscommunication. The VAR officials just didn’t feel they saw something that would definitively overrule the ref’s initial decision.

    • Am sure u watched the game. What did you think about it? I thought it was a penalty.

    • That’s the level of corruption in FIFA.

    • Lasana, So what was the verdict of the foul on Jesus in Brazil’s first match vs. Switzerland? Clear cut pk, but still no decision in favour of Brazil. Germany vs. Sweden, early pk for Sweden with a red card for Boateng and nothing. So there are inconsistencies that must be fixed. Still appreciate the use of tech though.

    • They don’t want no South American or North American to win the 2018 world cup they want that cup to remain in Europe!!!!!!!!!!

    • Saw it on bbc. Commentator says the foul by Kompany early in second half was a clear penalty , he even said its just a matter of time till the referee walks over to the sideline…..

      The hand in eye one, also a foul but one could debate, barely.

    • Alvin, I saw five different angles. In four, I wasn’t absolutely certain one way or the other.
      In the fifth, it was absolutely clear cut. That makes me wonder what angle they were looking at when they advised the referee.
      I’m surprised they didn’t think ref should have looked at it himself and decided.
      But then in that same match, Neymar made a shameless dive in the box too and was lucky not to be booked.
      Brazil’s Star, Neymar, was antagonizing officials for the entire tournament. And then, when they needed a call to go their way, it didn’t.
      It was a penalty. And probably karma too.

    • Vick Sirju so you know this lmao bull?fella Brazil are out stop crying

  11. Brilliant commentary once again.

  12. Excuses excuses excuses and more excuses we expected that from you but go join the line in the airport with all the team you put down, it gold for you

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