In Depth

Rodriguez the toast of Brazil - but is he better than Bebe?

World Cup whispers: Rodriguez rocks Uruguay, Brazilian tempers flare, Greek integrity

A ROCKET FOR RODRIGUEZ...

Two goals from James Rodriguez, including a contender for goal of the tournament, sent Uruguay packing on Saturday as Columbia booked a place in the quarter-finals for the first time. Much of the build-up focused on the absent Luis Suarez, but he was quickly forgotten when Rodriguez struck in the 28th minute. Controlling a header on his chest, with his back to goal, the Columbian spun and smashed a left-foot volley in off the crossbar. Rodriguez doubled Columbia's lead after the break, taking him to the top of the Golden Boot competition.

... BUT IS HE BETTER THAN BEBE?

Rodriguez's wonder-strike has made him the talk of the tournament, which might make Sir Alex Ferguson slightly uncomfortable. In 2010 when Rodriguez was still a teenager playing for Banfield in Argentina, Manchester United were approached and asked if they would be interested in signning the Colombian for £5m. Ferguson declined the offer and a few weeks later signed another unknown, Portuguese striker Bebe, for £7.4m. United were linked with the player again last summer, but baulked at the pricetag, and Rodriguez eventually signed for Monaco.

ALLEZ LES BLEUS THANKS TO FERGIE

Alex Ferguson's judgement may have been called into question in some quarters, but he may have played an unlikely role in the French renaissance at this year's World Cup. France's manager, Didier Deschamps, provided every member of his 23-man squad with a copy of Ferguson's autobiography before they departed for Brazil, and it certainly seems to have had an effect. Les Bleus breezed through Group E to qualify comfortably with seven points, while the internal divisions that crippled their South African campaign seem a distant memory.

GREECE SHOW SOME INTEGRITY

After unsavoury incidents involving Cameroon, who threatened to strike unless they were paid World Cup bonuses, and Ghana, who had $3m in cash flown to Brazil by the government before they crashed out in the group stages, Greek footballers have proved that money is not everything in sport but turning down the offer of a bonus for reaching the knock-out stages. They were offered the money by prime minister Antonis Samaras but requested that it is used to build a new training centre for the national side.

INJURY WORRIES FOR NEYMAR

The fitness of World Cup poster-boy Neymar may be in doubt after Brazil's gruelling last-16 clash with Chile. Although the Selecao star played the whole of Saturday's game, including extra time and penalties, it's reported he picked-up a thigh injury four minutes in following a bruising challenge from Chile's Charles Aranguiz. With four goals in four games Neymar has been an integral part of coach Luiz Felipe Scolari's side, and doubts over his fitness will be a major concern for the hosts ahead of Friday's quarter-final clash with Columbia.

BRAZIL OFFICIAL ACCUSED OF PUNCH

The stakes are rising and tempers have started flaring in Brazil. There have been claims in the wake of Brazil's narrow win over Chile that Las Rojas' striker Mauricio Pinilla was punched by Brazil's communications director, Rodrigo Paiva, at half-time during Saturday's lasy-16 encounter. There was a scuffle in the tunnel during the match after a flare-up between Brazil striker Fred and Chile defender Gary Medel. Paiva has admitted to shoving Pinilla but said that he did so only in self-defence.

Recommended

Maradona and the ‘simple homicide’ trial
Diego Maradona pictured in 2019
Why we’re talking about . . .

Maradona and the ‘simple homicide’ trial

A perfect storm of ‘injury, fatigue and déjà vu’ for England? 
England captain Harry Kane reacts after Hungary’s third goal at Molineux 
View from the terraces

A perfect storm of ‘injury, fatigue and déjà vu’ for England? 

Should Gareth Southgate be sacked?
Gareth Southgate reacts to England’s 4-0 defeat to Hungary in the Uefa Nations League
View from the terraces

Should Gareth Southgate be sacked?

A guide to the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022
The Fifa World Cup trophy on display at the draw for Qatar 2022
The big match

A guide to the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022

Popular articles

Are we heading for World War Three?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Are we heading for World War Three?

When will paper £20 and £50 notes expire?
Paper banknotes
Business Briefing

When will paper £20 and £50 notes expire?

What happened to Zara Aleena?
Zara Aleena
In Brief

What happened to Zara Aleena?

The Week Footer Banner