FULL TIME: Brazil 2-1 Colombia
And that's it! Brazil make the semis for the first time since 2002. They'll face Germany - who they beat in the final that year - in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday. James Rodriguez exits the stage he's made his own in floods of tears. Poor lad. He's been immense, the star of this tournament. Six goals in five matches! He may well end the 2014 World Cup as leading scorer. But no further glory for him. Brazil were a little too sharp for the rest of his team-mates tonight. The hosts probably had the better share of the referee's decisions, but the result was a deserved one nonetheless. They still don't quite look the complete package, but then who does? And they're in the semis, two wins from laying those ghosts of 1950 to rest. One way or another, the business end of this World Cup is guaranteed to be emotional ...
90 min +4: Zuniga is bodychecked as he romps up the right, by Hernanes. Quintero whips a ball towards the far post. Ramos gets a head on it, but sends it sailing miles over the bar. It'll be a goal kick, and the cheers can be heard all the way back in an unhappy Bogota.
90 min +3: Brazil manage to get the ball upfield, and into the Colombian half. But they can't keep hold of it for long. Colombia move upfield.
90 min +2: Armero whips a cross into the Brazilian area from the left. It's spectacularly cleared by Thiago Silva. The ball's then lumped in from the left. Bedlam, bedlam. Corner on the right, conceded by Marcelo. From which, Ramos eyebrows wide left. Colombia are desperate, but Brazil are not in total control of this situation, or themselves. The panic's on!
90 min +1: Bacca bursts into the Brazilian box after being released by Rodriguez. The striker's bundled off the ball, legally. Brazil clear. Rodriguez has been put on the floor when making the pass, and claims a free kick, but he's not getting one.
90 min: There will be five added minutes! Scolari reacts in the 'animated' style.
89 min: It's Henrique who's on for Neymar, whose rattling coccyx is now totally drowned out by the desperate whistles of the home crowd. They want full time, and they don't care that the 90 minutes aren't up yet.
87 min: From a poor Quintero corner, Oscar and Fred romp upfield on the break. The move breaks down. Brazil turn back towards their own goal. Zuniga plants his knee in the small of Neymar's back. Ooyah, oof! What a preposterous lunge. No card! But poor Neymar can't continue. He looks in obvious pain. That was a proper clatter. His coccyx must be humming like a tuning fork.
86 min: Zuniga romps down the right. Oscar is forced to concede a corner from 40 yards out. Before it's taken, Brazil swap Paulinho for Hernanes.
84 min: Colombia come straight back at Brazil. Armero is pinged free into acres down the left, and Colombia have men over in the middle. But the full back's mistimed his run, and is offside.
83 min: Quintero whips the corner hard to the near post. Fred heads behind for a corner. A second go. Ramires clears out for a throw. Brazil are pinned back in their own area, but Zapata stupidly crashes into Fernandinho, and Brazil can run down the clock before blootering a free kick up the other end.
82 min: Now it's a corner for Colombia, won down the right. Before it's taken, Hulk is replaced by Ramires.
81 min: Cuadrado is replaced by Quintero. And Brazil are rocking, because they give up a chance to Bacca, the striker heading a left-wing cross wide right from six yards. Turns out he was offside, but dearie me!
GOAL!!! Brazil 2-1 Colombia (Rodriguez 80 pen)
Rodriguez sends Julio Cesar the wrong way. The keeper goes left. Rodriguez rolls the ball to his left. He's kept up his amazing record of scoring in every game! That's his sixth goal in this World Cup! And Colombia are back in it!
79 min: A lot of fannying about before the penalty, Julio Cesar taking an age to get up.
77 min: PENALTY FOR COLOMBIA!!! Rodriguez clips a little diagonal ball from the left-hand edge of the D to release Bacca into the area down the inside right. Bacca's upended by the outrushing Julio Cesar, who should see red but only receives yellow. But that's a penalty kick! Can James Rodriguez get Colombia back into this game?
76 min: Oscar blooters a long ball down the inside-left channel. Neymar takes up possession. He's only got Yepes to beat, and he'll be free in the box. But the old man slides in brilliantly, to stop a certain goal.
75 min: Cuadrado jinks in from the left, but mishits his shot, which harmlessly bounces a few times before landing softly in Julio Cesar's arms.
73 min: Neymar, down the inside right channel, takes a touch inside and attempts to curl a left-footed shot into the top left. He so nearly manages it.
72 min: Yepes has been booked, it seems for dissent. Colombia aren't particularly happy with the free kick that led to the goal. A suggestion that Hulk went down slightly easily.
70 min: What a couple of minutes those were! Another change for a shell-shocked Colombia, who switch Gutierrez for Bacca.
WHAT A GOAL!!! Brazil 2-0 Colombia (David Luiz 69)
We've not had many good free kicks at this World Cup. Well, here's one! Luis whips a sidefoot over the wall and into the top-right corner! Ospina had no chance whatsoever!
68 min: Rodriguez, who has been kicked hither and yon, slides in on Hulk, 30 yards out, and is booked. Free kick to Brazil, in a dangerous position. From which ...
66 min: DISALLOWED GOAL! Colombia lump a free kick into the Brazilian area from the right. There are two red shirts offside, so the flag goes up. But there's a stramash on the edge of the six-yard area. A series of fresh-air kicks ends with Yepes battering the ball into the net! But it won't count. Colombia argue that they didn't meet Zuniga's initial free kick - Luiz hit it first - but the ref's not letting that stand.
64 min: Cuadrado crumps his shoulder into Neymar's breastplate after being outskilled down the left by the young Brazilian. Still no card! This is preposterous. A free kick for Brazil in a dangerous position, but Neymar's set piece is claimed by Ospina. And then, finally, the first booking, and typically it's farcical. Ospina looks to drop-kick clear, only for Thiago Silva to get in the way of boot and dropping ball as he comes from behind. The loose ball is belted into the net by Fred, but it won't count. And the Brazilian captain has picked up the booking that'll keep him out of the semi should his team get there.
61 min: Colombia pin Brazil back for a little while. Then Yepes pointlessly bundles over Fred in the middle of the park as Brazil look to edge back upfield, and the pressure's released. What a daft challenge. "Is this referee part of a plan to increase the popularity of football further by making it more appealing to the computer-game-loving youth of today?" wonders David Wall. "When we get the Brazil - Netherlands final, if the Dutch revert to 2010 tactics and the hosts keep up their current approach it'll be more like a game of Mortal Combat or Street Fighter than football." If you see Sepp Blatter wheelspinning around Rio with the steering wheel in one hand and a length of lead piping in the other, somebody call the bobbies, he'll have finally lost the plot.
60 min: The ball's shuttled in from the Colombian left wing to Rodriguez, on the edge of the Brazilian area. He attempts another world-stunning volley, but this one isn't going into the top left, miles high and wide as it is. Still, hats off for trying. Colombia need something to happen.
57 min: Thiago Silva knees Ramos in the back of his leg. A foul any day, and probably a yellow too. But nothing's awarded. This referee is losing control of this game. He's making Howard Webb look like Abraham Klein.
55 min: Ramos tugs at Luiz's arm like a child who has spotted some sweeties at the supermarket counter. Free kick. This is scrappy rubbish right at the moment. On that subject ... "Just before the match, I popped to the shop to get some nice healthy oatcakes," begins Matt Dony. "While I was there, I also found a pack of doughnuts reduced to 25p. And you're absolutely right. Whatever Apple tell me, I'm going to enjoy them. After all, if Yepes can play a World Cup quarter final at 38, I've got a few years to catch up with him. Russia 2018 here I come!"
53 min: A bit of space for Marcelo down the left. He reaches the byline and sticks a high ball into the middle, where Fred and Hulk are lurking. Ospina rises to claim, and is bundled over for his trouble. Peep! A free kick, correctly awarded!
52 min: Guarin is forced to bring down Fernandinho as the Brazilian goes on a very positive burst down the inside right, 30 yards out. A little tip-a-tap free kick is eventually flicked into the area, where Luiz lurks. Zapata heads behind for the corner, but Colombia get a goal kick. Neymar is incensed. They're not having a good game, these officials.
50 min: Hulk rather needlessly bundles over Zuniga, as the right back looks to make ground down the right. Cuadrado takes the resulting free kick, out on the wing, 30 yards from goal. It's headed clear, but Colombia are quickly coming back at Brazil. Rodriguez looks to release Cuadrado into the Brazil box with a clever little reverse sliderule pass down the right channel, and he nearly succeeds, but there's a little bit too much juice on the pass, and it rolls away from the winger.
49 min: Rodriguez looks to turn Maicon down the left, but is nicked off the ball. This half is a load of stop-start nonsense so far. "Here in these Untied States, Pele's pushing Subway sandwiches," reports Bill Jones. "He doesn't say a word, just sits there." A bit like the sandwich, I guess.
47 min: Cuadrado bombs down the inside-right channel, and is upended by the dangling leg of Luiz. The referee's not giving it, though. Then the increasingly thuggish Fernandinho shoulder-charges Ramos into the hoardings behind the Brazilian goal on the left. Totally unnecessary, as Ramos had run the ball out of play. Again nothing. This referee's a clown.
The teams are back out, and we're off again! The hosts get the ball rolling. No changes for the home side. But Colombia have made a switch, and it's an attacking one: Ibarbo off, Ramos on. "This game is being played like a school ground game of First-to-Ten-Goals-Wins, and Big Phil is looking on like the genial master thinking 'boys will be boys'," writes Justin Kavanagh. "Somewhere in Portugal, the control-freak Mourinho must be in agony watching this."
Half-time advertising message, courtesy of Pelé:
Say what you like about the honesty of this advert - Pelé doesn't exactly carry off the look of campfire troubadour, manically waving that guitar around, and Pepsi as we know is not the real thing - but at least it doesn't impose itself and its values on the viewer like that bloody Apple advert that's on during every break on ITV. Go You Chicken Fat Go - a song from JFK's dubious sounding national youth fitness program - is the last thing everyone wants to hear on a Friday night, after a long week at work. Are we not allowed to enjoy a beer and maybe a slice of pizza in front of the football without being forced to feel guilty now? Bugger off, Apple! Do one! If full-fat Pepsi and sitting on one's arse was good enough for Pelé in the 70s, it's good enough for us. Pass the chicken nuggets, will you.
HALF TIME: Brazil 1-0 Colombia
And that's that for the first half. A very open and entertaining affair. Brazil just about deserve their lead, but their midfield enforcer has deserved a booking too. Colombia have been sporadically dangerous in attack, but they'll need to get their act together in the second period if they want to knock out the hosts.
45 min: How on earth has Fernandinho not gone in the book? He comes straight through the back of Rodriguez as the two contest a bouncing ball down the Colombian left, in the midfield. That's just old-fashioned clogging, pure and simple. But no yellow.
44 min: Neymar does indeed fancy it. He attempts a curler into the top right. Not a bad effort, with Ospina's feet planted to the floor. But it's never going in.
43 min: Zuniga rather clumsily clatters into Neymar as the former jinks around a bit down the inside left. Free kick to Brazil, just outside the Colombian box, to the left of goal. Neymar looks like he fancies this.
40 min: Neymar turns on the burners down the inside-left. Zapata looks surprised and, for a second, stranded. But he manages to hold his line, and Neymar runs the ball out of play for a goal kick as he tries to circumvent the defender on the outside. "My word. This is as frenetic and fierce as any derby I've seen. Though perhaps I should expect as much from the two largest coffee exporters in the world. Certainly more delicious than the earlier match, which was a bit of a grind." Grant Tennille, everyone. He's here all week. Try the Mellow Bird's.
39 min: Hulk dances down the inside-left channel and drops a shoulder to get past Zuniga. He's ten yards from goal, but shanks an awful effort wide left.
37 min: ... sees his free kick blocked by Marcelo, who is about a yard away from him now. That was always going to happen. Another chance comes soon after, as Cuadrado is blocked off down the left wing. Rodriguez sends that free kick straight into Julio Cesar's hands. Very poor.
36 min: Free kick in a very dangerous position for Colombia, as Fernandinho and Ibarbo both highkick each other while challenging a loose ball just inside the Brazilian D. Six of one, half a dozen of the other, but Colombia get the decision. The free kick is just to the right of centre. Fortaleza reverberates to tense, loud whistling. The ball's tapped sideways to Rodriguez, who ...
35 min: Another corner for Brazil down the right, Maicon winning it off Armero. Or rather, he'd have won it off Armero had the pitch been a yard longer. The ball was already out. But Brazil get the decision. Thankfully for the general health of the internet, and specifically Twitter, the resulting set piece comes to nothing, Neymar finding Fernandinho at the near post, the flicked header flying over the bar and wide left.
33 min: A relative lull in what's been a magnificently open and entertaining match, albeit a rather one-sided one so far. Brazil pass it around the middle of the park for a while, but their Liverpool c.1979 approach gets them nowhere. "By far the most troubling thought in this world cup is who has kidnapped Millings (3 min) and replaced him with someone who actually talks about the football rather than make laboured puns on footballers' names," writes Phil Sawyer. "I'm chiefly worried as if the real Millings has been disappeared I'm not sure anyone will realise I'm still locked in his basement."
30 min: Colombia showed up for a couple of minutes after the Brazilian goal, but since, there's been little from them. However, here they come again, through the lively Cuadrado, who batters a shot from 25 yards straight into Thiago Silva. The ball balloons off the Brazil captain's back and out for a throw down the left, from which Cuadrado and Rodriguez attempt a one-two that'd bust the latter into the area. But it doesn't quite come off. Cuadrado and Rodriguez look very bright, but Colombia could do with one or two others making a contribution in attack.
28 min: Brazil are looking extremely lively in attack. Marcelo whips a low pass into the Colombian box from the left, finding Hulk, who takes a touch and hammers a stunning low shot towards the bottom left. Ospina parries the ball straight up into the air, a stunning save, and Yepes heads clear. Oscar returns the ball with menace, but there are several Brazilians offside by now. Hulk is enjoying himself tonight.
27 min: Hulk slips the ball to Marcelo, just to the left of the Colombian D. Marcelo takes a shot with a view to finding the top right, but the effort twangs off the back of a yellow shirt, and there goes that opportunity.
24 min: Komik kutz in the middle of the park. Rodriguez is fouled, and gets up quickly, first with the intention of starting a fight, then to nudge a quick free kick forward. Gutierrez has the ball at his feet in a dangerous position upfield, but doesn't think the game's restarted. He's robbed of the ball with farcical ease by Fernandinho, and Brazil flood upfield. Oscar is very nearly freed down the inside right. Probably just as well he's not, as you'd never hear the end of it, though neither Brazil nor the referee did anything wrong.
22 min: Brazil are pressing. But they over-commit and suddenly Colombia are breaking upfield, four on two! A shot on target is the bare minimum that must occur here, but Rodriguez rolls the ball out right to Cuadrado, and the winger is blocked as he cuts inside to shoot by Thiago Silva. Brilliant defending, but what a chance spurned. "
Don't shill the World Cup to countries with human-rights issues (Pre-match Fifa platitudes) is obviously a Fifa tenet," tut-tuts Damian Clarke. "Bloody Iain Duncan Smith and his Back to work schemes. Now we know why we didn't get the bid!"
20 min: Brazil have their dander up. Hulk again makes good down the left channel. He one-twos with Neymar then hammers a shot goalwards that's parried by Ospina. Oscar looks to loop the rebound into the top left, but that's easily dealt with by the keeper. A corner results, and after a fashion Colombia clear that, too. But they're rocking a little here.
17 min: Brazil don't score this time, but Colombia make another meal of defending a corner. Yepes heads out of the area, but the second phase of the clearance isn't dealt with, and Hulk is given the opportunity to make it back into the box with a powerful run down the left channel. He reaches the corner of the six-yard box, but there's no shooting chance, so opts for a low cross instead. Fred can't connect from six yards out, though Zapata was giving him full-on hassle.
16 min: Maicon bothers Armero down the right wing, and earns a fairly cheap corner, the full back clanking the ball out of play in a blind panic. From which ...
13 min: Rodriguez turns briskly in the centre circle and looks to break upfield with purpose. He's clattered by Fernandinho, who is very fortunate not to go in the referee's notebook. "In your intro, you suggest that Brazil will need to play better 'to banish the ghosts of 1950, else we could have a couple of new Moacir Barbosas and Bigodes on our hands by the end of the evening'," parrots Peter Johannessen. "Ironically, bigodes (which translates to moustaches in Portuguese) might actually be the answer, not the problem. As seen in this article, Brazil only wins the World Cup when they have at least one player with a moustache. Enter Fred!"
11 min: Colombia have responded brilliantly, it must be said. Cuadrado races down the right and sees his low cross cleared. Then he takes up possession again, cuts inside from the wing, and unleashes a low fizzer that's deflected inches wide of the right-hand post, the ball billowing the side netting. That might have troubled Julio Cesar were it on target. The resulting corner is taken by Cuadrado himself - well, he earned it - but is easily dealt with by Brazil. What a start we've had here!
10min: Cuadrado is gently kneed in the back by Luiz, 35 yards from goal, in a fairly central position. Guarin decides to have a crack. It's a ludicrously ambitious, and his effort to find the top-right corner of the goal only just about stays in the top-right corner of the stand behind it.
GOAL!!! Brazil 1-0 Colombia (Thiago Silva 7)
Well this is pretty easy. A ball fizzed in from the left. It goes straight through the six-yard box, over the heads of Luiz and Zapata, and is bundled into an open net at the far post by Brazil's captain! What a start for the hosts! What inept defending by Colombia! This is the first time the Colombians have fallen behind at this World Cup. Now let's see what they've got.
6 min: Fernandinho curls a pass down the inside left to set Neymar off on a fast-paced attack. He wins a corner off Zapata, from which ...
5 min: Sanchez bundles Neymar over, 30 yards from goal, winning a free kick in a fairly central position. He looks to get the ball up and over the Colombian wall and back down into the bottom left. He manages the first bit, but not the latter, and his effort flies well wide left too. But Brazil have started in a lively fashion, and Maicon's soon coming back at Colombia. He's in space down the right, but loops his cross onto the roof of the net.
3 min: A fairly open start, mind you. First Paulinho and Neymar attempt to combine down the right. Then Rodriguez breaks down the other end, along the right wing. Neither attack comes to much, but they get the crowd going. Meanwhile even Mac Millings is betraying a shiver of nerves, because for once he's playing it straight. "I love this Colombian side," he judders, "but I don't like the dropping of Jackson Martinez. Brazil are vulnerable to teams who have the nerve to go at them, as I thought Mexico showed, and I'm convinced that, had Chile showed more of their attacking side, they would be the ones facing Colombia today. It's precisely the wrong time for caution. I'm worried, Scotty. Worried." Yep, Pekerman will take a while to live this selection down if Colombia don't at least have a good go tonight.
And we're off! Colombia get the ball rolling, and lose possession rather quickly. Brazil gift it back in turn. It may take a wee while for nerves to settle.
I forgot to mention the pre-match Fifa platitudes. Don't be beastly to each other, kids. A well-meaning litany of no-nos: don't be racist, don't be sexist, don't be homophobic,
don't shill the World Cup to countries with human-rights issues. "Is anyone weeping yet?" asks JR in Illinois. "Please keep us apprised. I expect maybe Dani Alves had some tears in private when he saw the team sheet." No tears yet, or none I've seen anyway. There's even been that now-traditional second a cappella chorus of the Brazilian anthem, but not a drop squeezed out. A few hairs standing on end, I'll be bound. There's a rare old atmosphere at the Estadio Castelao!
The teams are out! Brazil are in their famous yellow shirts with green trim, but white instead of traditional blue shorts. NOT OK. Colombia are in second-choice red. The players line up, and it's time for a bit of the old ♩♪♫♬♩♪♫♬. Brazil! Of the sons of this ground / Thou art gentle mother / Beloved homeland Brazil! Colombia! Oh, unfading glory! / Oh, inmortal joy! / In furrows of pain the good now germinates!
But we know all this by now. Our time is better spent listening to a spot of cumbia ...
… and then the best samba song written by a football commentator, admittedly rendered here in the hot jazz style.
Should neither Neymar nor James Rodriguez turn up for this match, tonight's most influential player could potentially be Mario Yepes. Colombia's 38-year-old veteran is a fine defender who has tasted success at Deportivo Cali, River Plate, Paris Saint-Germain and Milan, as well as winning the 2001 Copa America with his country. But never mind all that! Just before the 2006/07 season, the authorities in France decided to launch a campaign to clean up the penalty area, with particular determination to stop shirt pulling. A DVD featuring examples of this heinous crime was sent round to referees and clubs for the purposes of information and education. Eight out of ten of the tugs featured turned out to have been executed by Yepes, then at PSG. He was also the cover star of the disc. Sure enough, in his first two matches of the season, Yepes gave away three penalties, all for the crime of shirt pulling.
Meanwhile, two of the three mentions of Yepes in the MBM of last weekend's Colombia-Uruguay match see our hero nearly starting a brawl with Diego Forlan, then getting involved in a shoving match with Diego Godin. Let's hope referee Carlos Velasco Carballo isn't looking for any old excuse to give the rickety old hosts a helping hand!
The big team news sees Maicon make his first appearance of the World Cup, replacing Dani Alves at right back in Brazil's starting XI. Luiz Felipe Scolari also brings Paulinho, so sleepy against Cameroon, back into the midfield to replace the suspended Luiz Gustavo. Brazil fans will be hoping he can find a team-mate or two this time with his passes.
Colombia meanwhile make two changes to the team that started against Uruguay in the second round. Midfielders Victor Ibarbo and Fredy Guarin are named in place of midfielder Abel Aguilar and striker Jackson Martinez, who both drop to the bench. It's a slightly more conservative selection by coach José Pékerman, who, if it all goes wrong for los Cafeteros, will get reminded yet again of what happened in 2006 between Argentina and Germany after he took Juan Román Riquelme off.
Cast and crew
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Maicon, Thiago Silva, Luiz, Marcelo, Fernandinho, Paulinho, Oscar, Neymar, Hulk, Fred.
Subs: Jefferson, Dani Alves, Dante, Maxwell, Henrique, Ramires, Hernanes, Willian, Bernard, Jo, Victor.
Colombia: Ospina, Zuniga, Zapata, Yepes, Armero, Guarin, Sanchez Moreno, Cuadrado, Rodriguez, Ibarbo, Gutierrez.
Subs: Vargas, Arias, Carbonero, Aguilar, Mejia, Balanta, Bacca, Ramos, Quintero, Martinez, Valdes, Mondragon.
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo (Spain)
Twenty long years ago, Colombia went into the World Cup as one of the favourites, alongside usual suspects Brazil, Argentina and Germany. They had been tipped to win the whole damn thing by industry experts such as Terry Venables and Trevor Brooking. (Poor much-maligned Pelé hadn't gone rogue; plenty of people were saying it.) But Francisco Maturana's team couldn't live up to the promise generated by an unbeaten qualification campaign which had climaxed in an astonishing 5-0 demolition of Argentina in Buenos Aires. Los Cafeteros became the first team to be knocked out of USA '94, a painful experience for the country's golden generation of Carlos Valderrama, Faustino Asprilla et al, and one which descended into tragedy when defender Andrés Escobar was murdered back home in Medellin, ten days after scoring an own goal against the hosts. This ill-fated campaign is the first thing that springs to most minds whenever Colombia is mentioned in the context of World Cups. Well, that or overly ostentatious goalkeeper Rene Higuita fannying around on the halfway line to Cameroon striker Roger Milla's gleeful benefit at Italia '90. Either way, it's about time a truly positive chapter was added to Colombia's World Cup story.
Their current side could be in the process of penning that right now. Colombia have been - unquestionably - the team of the 2014 World Cup so far. A decent showing wasn't totally unexpected, the team having finished Conmebol qualification in second spot behind Argentina. But nine of their goals in that campaign were scored by Radamel Falcao, who fell victim in January to a knee injury. Without their sensational star man, there was never going to be a repeat of 1994's heady pre-tournament mix of hope and hype. But another astonishing talent has stepped in to fill the gap. James Rodriguez is already a shoo-in as this World Cup's breakthrough star. He's currently the tournament's leading scorer with five goals. One of them, a dipping screamer against Uruguay, is the goal of this World Cup to date. And having scored in every game so far, he's currently on track to become only the fifth player in World Cup history to score at every game in a finals, after György Sárosi of Hungary in 1938, Alcides Ghiggia of Uruguay in 1950, Just Fontaine of France in 1958, and Jairzinho in 1970. The lad is not doing badly, all things considered.
Rodriguez isn't the only Colombian on top of his game. The strikers Jackson Martinez and Teofilo Guitierrez are both in good goalscoring nick, Juan Zuniga has impressed as a marauding right-back, Juan Guillermo Cuadrado has sparkled on the wing, and David Ospina has been one of roughly 30 goalkeepers at this World Cup to have made a serious impression. And so, after four assured wins out of four - part of a 16-game, year-long run that's seen Colombia defeated just once - folk are beginning to wonder if these dark horses could do what their 1994 counterparts could not: make good on their promise, and win the whole damn thing. History is not their friend - only three out of 20 World Cups have been lifted by first-time winners playing away from home (West Germany in 1954, Brazil in 1958, and Spain last time around) - but three more stellar performances from young Mr Rodriguez, and Colombia may take some stopping here in Brazil.
A rather large caveat: the hosts stand in the way tonight. Now, nobody was seriously expecting any romantic 1970-style jogo bonito antics from Big Phil Scolari's functional side, but few expected the samba beat to be so comprehensively drowned out by Colombia's insouciant cumbia shuffle. The excellent and ballsy Neymar apart, the seleção have been dismal. Had the frame of the goal at the Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte been kinder to Mauricio Pinilla and Gonzalo Jara, Chile would be contesting this quarter-final right now. But Brazil squeaked through the second round, and they too are a mere three matches from glory. With plenty of room for improvement, and a fair bit of talent in the team, they've got to click into gear at some point, surely? They'll need to, if they're to banish the ghosts of 1950, else we could have a couple of new Moacir Barbosas and Bigodes on our hands by the end of the evening.
History shouldn't haunt Brazil too much, though, as on balance it's very much on their side. Brazil have never lost to Colombia at home, and have only lost two of their last 25 meetings, a group game at the 1991 Copa America. They're unbeaten at home since losing to Paraguay in 2002, and haven't lost a competitive match on their own turf since Peru beat them 3-1 in the 1975 Copa America semis. Will Rodriguez be the Teófilo Cubillas de nos jours? Or is poor, overburdened Neymar going to keep his country alive, a feat which would ensure his name is added to that long list of Brazilian World Cup legends starting with Leonidas and ending with Ronaldo? The stakes are high. There's a World Cup semi-final place, plus possible immortality, to play for. It's on!
Kick off: 5pm at the Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza; 5pm in Bogotá, 9pm in London.