In what was billed the clash of two international giants, Brazil faced Germany with a place in the semi-finals up for grabs.
Brazil had finished top of Group D with maximum points from their three group fixtures, only conceding one – against Spain – in the process.
Germany meanwhile, finished second in Group C. They were surprisingly humbled 4-0 by Iran on matchday two but managed to recover from their defeat to qualify into the knockout rounds.
Brazil started quickly, much to the excitement of supporters in Kolkata. Paulinho, Brenner and Lincoln were all working hard to create chances with overlapping runs forward ensuring Germany’s backline were tested from minute one.
Alan Souza, who recently has been heavily linked with a big money-move to Real Madrid, hit the post too in the early exchanges.
However, the favourites conceded first. Lucas Halter’s late sliding challenge to halt John Yeboah in the box saw the referee point to the spot. Jann-Fiete Arp made no mistake, breaking the deadlock after 20 minutes.
Brazil were much improved after the interval and their probing pass combinations finally earned a well-worked reward with the Germans tiring.
Alan’s perfectly-weighted pass invited Weverson to strike, and strike he did. The fullback unleashed a venomous shot which rifled beyond Luca Plogmann at his near post. Paulinho gave Brazil a slender lead after taking advantage of a counter-attack, from which his strike from just outside the box flashed past the Werder Bremen goalkeeper.
Germany’s final efforts to take the tie into penalties were ultimately futile, despite six minutes of stoppage time being added on before the full-time whistle. Here are the standout performers from this enthralling encounter.
Alan de Souza Guimarães
It’s easy to criticise big clubs for splashing huge fees to sign talented youngsters across the world, but it’s no surprise that Real Madrid have made their intentions clear with the creative midfielder producing performances like these.
Unlucky not to break the deadlock as he watched an effort bounce back off the upright, Alan was comfortable as usual in possession and looked threatening every time he had the ball to feet.
Able to control the tempo from midfield, his vision and weight of pass as well as his dribbling capabilities mean he’s incredibly tricky and tough for defenders to predict.
He can play as a central midfielder but has been deployed in more of an attack-minded midfield role throughout the tournament, to great success with three assists and chances created galore thus far.
It was his perfectly-weighted pass which set up Weverson and he was easily Brazil’s best player on an evening where they needed their most influential youngsters to react after going a goal behind.
Given his competitive Vasco da Gama debut on the eve of his 17th birthday back in July, he created one and netted two before the month was over.
Since then, he has been tried and tested in a range of different attack-minded positions but with Carlos Amadeu, for Brazil u17s he’s predominantly played on the wing.
Although it took him some time before he asserted his quality on this occasion, he ultimately showed his ability during important attacking moments. It was a shame that the scoreline didn’t justify his involvement.
Lincoln’s lack of a clinical touch was part of the issue, though he did combine well with fellow goalscorer Weverson in the second-half down the left flank.
He took his goal remarkably well too. Marauding forward on the counter-attack through midfield, he shrugged off the challenge of Jan Boller – who had just come on no less – before letting fly from range.
His effort left Plogmann with limited time to react and gave Brazil the lead, their first during the 90 minutes. From there, they were confident and rather assured of a semi-final place despite Germany’s late attacking surge.
Broke the deadlock from the spot and never really looked in doubt. Did fairly well operating as Germany’s lone striker, though his influence within the game decreased as Brazil began dominating in the later stages of the match.
Linked up with Yeboah on a handful of occasions but was unable to create many other goalscoring chances of note, though his awareness and attack positioning posed questions for Brazil’s backline to continually deal with throughout.
Decision-making could’ve been better in certain situations, either where he held the ball too long or opted for an effort on goal instead of scanning for options either side of him. However, this was only increasingly evident once his team-mates began to tire and their attacking prowess weaned.
Yann Aurel Bisseck
You couldn’t help but sympathise with the youngster on this occasion. Tasked with trying to keep Brazil’s pacey frontline quiet was easier said than done, even with his physical attributes providing a level playing field.
The talented Koln youngster was starting his third successive game at this year’s World Cup finals. His presence at the back almost encouraged Brazil to attack with patience and precision as their quick one-two passing was effective in regularly dragging out his defensive teammates.
As the match continued, you could see the 16-year-old dropping deeper than the rest of his teammates. Perhaps a sign of fatigue setting in, but equally allowing him to sweep up danger if it advanced toward his side of the defence. He made a handful of interceptions and important defensive interventions, though would’ve been frustrated at the way in which his team conceded twice in quick succession to relinquish a semi-final place.
Throwing himself in front of attempted efforts at goal and trying his utmost to protect Plogmann, you could see him remonstrating with others as they didn’t seem to match his commitment levels when it came to defending out of possession.
Perhaps that was why it appeared so easy for Brazil to break Germany down defensively, not least in the second-half as tired legs became an overwhelming factor.