France 2-0 Nigeria
Late strikes from Paul Pogba and a Joseph Yobo own-goal were enough to take Les Bleus into the World Cup quarter-finals.
Given the entertaining matches both teams had previously contested in, this game failed to live up to expectations as both demonstrated a lack of cutting edge in the final third.
The Super Eagles started both halves brightly but France’s imposing midfield began to find its rhythm and the momentum shifted.
Juventus’ highly-rated youngster Paul Pogba’s positive and powerful performance merited a goal and he almost broke the deadlock in the first-half with a rasping effort.
He did eventually open the scoring—in the 79th minute from a corner—following a fumble by Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.
In addition to Pogba’s threat, France enjoyed the fine form of Mathieu Valbuena, who has justified coach Didier Deschamps’ decision to leave Samir Nasri at home.
France will now meet Germany next Friday at the Maracana for a place in the semi-finals—their first World Cup meetings since the semi-finals of 1982 and 1986.
Germany 2-1 Algeria (AET)
Germany predictably made it to another quarter-final but Algeria more than held their own in this entertaining encounter in Porto Alegre.
Andre Schurrle scored Germany’s opener—Die Mannschaft’s first goal in World Cup extra-time since 1982—at the beginning of extra-time. Mesut Ozil secured the win with a minute left before Djabou pulled one back for the Africans.
In a scoreless 90 minutes, Manuel Neuer was called into action on numerous occasions as a sweeper, particularly during the first-half, where Les Fennecs exposed the Germans’ weakness of a makeshift back-four with alarming regularity.
In the second-half Germany settled but Thomas Muller was frustrated by Algerian goalkeeper Raïs M’Bolhi.
Late on in normal time Germany almost pulled off a hugely audacious free-kick routine which had been practised on the training ground, but it ended up resembling more Carry On than World Cup football—even Joachim Low seemed unimpressed with the proceedings.
No matter as the Germans prevailed and now all eyes will be on the Maracana next Friday. Germany’s battle against the French will be their first tournament meeting in 28 years.