Tottenham’s interest in proceedings in Brazil took a big hit in the quarter-finals. Belgium’s defeat leaves only Paulinho at the World Cup.
Belgium’s single goal defeat by Argentina means the end for Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele and Nacer Chadli, reducing Tottenham’s interest to Brazil and Paulinho at the World Cup. The Argentina goal came early in the first half of the quarter-final tie when a pass towards the Belgium area took a big deflection off Vertonghen and fell invitingly on the edge of the area to Higuain who dispatched it beyond the diving goalkeeper in the 8th minute.
Begium had managed to score late in each of their previous games but in a very cautious game with only three shots on target they never looked like equalising. Argentina controlled the match and Messi should have added to their lead in the final minutes of added time when through one-on-one with the goalkeeper but Courtois did brilliantly to deny him. Belgium’s one last chance came with less than a minute remaining but the powerful shot from Witsel went over the bar.
At the World Cup
Jan Vertonghen played against Argentina, his fourth start in the World Cup with an additional appearance as a first half substitute. Playing at left back he was never comfortable defensively but after a poor opening game improved and did manage to score in the third group game against South Korea. He was also a threat going forward against USA. He was unfortunate that his attempted block fell so nicely for Argentina’s goal but he managed to put in dangerous crosses for two of Belgium’s few chances but the headers were off target.
Nacer Chadli came off the bench late in the game but had little time to influence the match as Argentina worked tirelessly to hold their lead. A disappointing World Cup, he started the opening game but was taken off at half-time and then made three substitute appearances in later matches.
Mousa Dembele also started the first match against Algeria but went off after less than an hour. He played the third group game against Russia but sat out the two knock-out matches.
Much was expected from this group of Belgium players and while they reached the quarter-finals they failed to excite with a very cautious style of play and will return home disappointed that they didn’t do better individually and as a team.
Paulinho at the World Cup
- Paulinho and Brazil now face Germany in the semi-final on Tuesday evening.
Paulinho: It has been a poor World Cup for Paulinho. He started the three group games but was substituted early in two of them. He was omitted from the last-16 match but regained his place in the quarter-final win due to the suspension of Gustavo.
The Brazilian midfielder has been a pale shadow of the player who excited in the Confederations Cup a year ago and has contributed little to Brazil’s uncertain progress to the semi-final.
Paulinho has become Tottenham’s last man standing at the World Cup.