Pekerman: Fouls limited both stars
A high level of intensity disrupted the flow of Friday's second quarterfinal and prevented both team's stars from performing at their peaks, Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said after his team lost to Brazil.
The matchup between South American rivals led to 54 fouls, the highest so far at the World Cup in Brazil, and Pekerman felt the constant interruptions interfered with not only the play of his young star, James Rodriguez, but also that of Neymar for Brazil.
"You are used to them performing to 100 percent, but it was not easy to find continuity because the teams interrupted the game and the support that is needed was not there," Pekerman said. "This had an impact on two outstanding players.
"They have so much responsibility on their shoulders, so you have to understand how difficult these matches are. The two have lived up to it, have responded and we will always expect more from them."
Pekerman, however, wouldn't place the blame on Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo.
"You create friction because of the competitiveness and it's not easy to referee such a game," Pekerman said. "The tension was very high and Brazil needed the victory. We aspired to do the same and in every play, there was a lot of intensity. That interrupted the game. We lost the fluidity of the game because of this."
Rodriguez was able to put away a penalty for Colombia's lone goal, and at 22 he is the second-youngest player to score six goals in a World Cup, behind only Pele.
"The work of James during this World Cup has been excellent, and for a long time, we've expected this," Pekerman said. "He's an outstanding player and has a lot of talent. He has ambitions and has tried to do his best in a difficult match. This elimination leaves one of the best players out of the World Cup. I tried to calm him down because personally, he deserves to be commended and he can be one of the best."
When Thiago Silva scored for Brazil in the seventh minute, Colombia fell behind for the first time in their five games at the World Cup.
"Brazil held their own. It was a quick goal and that is always key," Pekerman said. "We knew that we could harm Brazil if we could find our passes and if we were able to move the ball and for James to participate. I believe Brazil was always worried about our players and we continued to fight to get the goal and we were very close."
Colombia had a remarkable World Cup, reaching the quarterfinals for the first time in their history and exciting fans with their attacking play. Pekerman said he always believed his team could win the tournament.
"It is not easy to go through an analysis of everything that has happened at the World Cup," he said. "This is a very hard moment for us. We always had the dream of being able to win this match and knowing that Brazil was going to be a very tough opponent, we never stopped dreaming that we could win it.
"The two teams had the necessary arms and weapons in order to win the match. Brazil did the right thing with the two set pieces and it was important to calm down Brazil. With the desire and willingness, it was still not enough.
"After being absent from a World Cup for a long time, this team went a long way in order to reassess football in Colombia, showing very talented players. It always competed with a significant presence of mind and spirit. It showed that it came here to play a wonderful World Cup and not consider it sufficient to just participate."