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July 04, 2014

World Cup semifinals set: Heavyweight Four!; plus Heat free agency, Hurricanes' new helmet & more

1aa1afourthjuly1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 5. Hope you had a happy birthday, America! You look good for 238. My Boston butt on the Big Green Egg came out fabulous, by the way. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Garo's Biggest Fight, U.S. World Cup success poll, Dion Jordan's suspension, Tannehill's rank & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

Heat free agency: We'll have a column on Heat free agency on Sunday and online late today. Despite the agent visits and everything else you hear, Heat remains very confident LeBron James will re-sign to complete the return of Big 3. Main free-agent targets are Trevor Ariza and Pau Gasol or Luol Deng, but Pat Riley is asking significant financial sacrifice from each. First day to sign is Thursday the 10th.

1aa1auhelmet
Hurricanes' new helmet:
It depicts the state of Florida, the peninsula whose outline is as distinctive as any U.S. state, with the 'U' logo where it should be down south.

1aa1abrazilwcFUTBLOG! WORLD CUP: GREAT EIGHT: THE QUARTERFINALS: FUTBLOG! is the official World Cup post of this blog, a continually updated daily dose of the month-long soccer spectacle in Brazil. See earlier posts for earlier results. Today concludes the quarterfinal round. The event might have been called off once the United States was eliminated but, somehow, was not. The four matchups, chronologically:

GERMANY (def. France, 1-0): Europe palpitated as mighty Germany and the

1aa1agermansurging French kicked off the quarters. France enjoyed a redeeming World Cup after a nightmare four years earlier, and had dispatched Nigeria 2-0 to get here, but the run ended. The Germans, who carry the European banner as (arguably) the best non-South American contender, struggled somewhat in getting here past Algeria, 2-1 in overtime, but made an early goal hold up here. I'd chanced an upset. I was wrong. My pick was: France, 2-1.

BRAZIL (def. Colombia, 2-1): The most anticipated of the four games, and not just because



the host
1aa1abrazilcountry would be swooning, but because of volatile, attacking football between the South American rivals. Brazil had yet to thrill its fans with optimum play, and needed luck to get here past Chile, 3-2 on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw. Colombia had been as impressive as anyone in the tournament, at 4-0 with an 11-2 goals differential after getting here past Uruguay, 2-0. The favorites prevailed but at great cost, losing star Neymar to an injury. I had sensed an upset. I was wrong. (Again). My pick was: Colombia, 3-2.

ARGENTINA (def. Belgium, 1-0): Cross-continent duel found Argentina and the sublime Lionel



Messi 1aa1aragebtinsa(my picks to win it all) still seeking to find all of their cylinders offensively, after getting here past Switzerland by a modest 1-0 score. Belgium eliminated the United States 2-1 in overtime but put an impressive, constant barrage on American goalie Tim Howard. Argentina still wasn't amazing with the ball but one goal was all it took. My pick was: Argentina, 3-1.

NETHERLANDS (def. Costa Rica, PKs): Costa Rica gave the final eight its one true Cinderella but fell in 1aa1anetherlandspenalty kicks after a scoreless draw, the Dutch looking like geniuses for a daring goalkeeper change just before the PK shootout. Netherlands was stymied by Costa Rica's offside trap but prevailed when all was on the line. My pick was: Netherlands, 2-0. 

World Cup goal scoring entering the semifinals: 60 matches, 159 goals, 2.65 per.

Ensuing schedule: Semifinal Tuesday July 8--Germany vs. Brazil, 4 p.m. Semifinal Wednesday July 9--Argentina vs. Netherlands, 4 p.m. Third-place Saturday July 12--Semifinal losers, 4 p.m. Championship Sunday july 13--Semifinal winners, 3 p.m.

Poll result: U.S. World Cup run (mostly) a success: We asked, and a plurality of 39.6 percent called it a success without question, while 36.5% called it a success but a "modest" one. Not a success but a decent show drew 16.5%, while only 7.4% called it "closer to a failure."

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