The World Cup is well and truly into the business end of the competition. As the dust settles on the round of 16 there’s been no shortage of drama, controversy and talking points.
The best South American side playing in yellow is not Brazil; Arjen Robben will be closely scrutinized after admitting his penchant for taking a tumble. The European sides haven’t had it easy, but are looking better than South America’s traditional powerhouses, the goalkeeper highlights reel will be replete with wonder saves and the old adage “it ain’t over till it’s over,” still rings true as we’ve seen lots of action right at the death.
Each side are only three games away from lifting the World Cup. Previous winners Germany, Brazil, Argentina and France will be looking to add to their collection whilst Colombia, the Netherlands, Belgium and even Costa Rica are in the mix to join the exclusive club of World Cup winning nations.
Brazil vs. Colombia:
The Seleção was extremely fortunate to go through against Chile, if they perform like that against the World Cup’s most impressive South American side they’ll surely be dumped unceremoniously out of the tournament.
Neymar has declared himself fit, which is a big boost for Brazil. However, the pressure and toll of expectation coupled with the underperformance of his teammates is starting to show on the weary striker. He has consistently delivered for Brazil this World Cup, be it scoring vital goals, to keeping his cool in the penalty shoot-out; Neymar has been far and away Brazil’s best player. It is imperative that Luiz Felipe Scolari squeezes more out of the other Brazilian players and in order to life their collective game. Brazil has had a fair share of fortune in this run, but they can’t win the World Cup relying heavily upon the heroics of Neymar.
The Brazilians will also be without Luiz Gustavo who is suspended for this game. In his absence Scolari will probably opt to bring in Paulinho to partner Fernandinho in midfield. There’s no room for errors now for the Seleção.
José Péckerman’s Colombia has progressed serenely into the quarterfinals and have been playing bright, enterprising attacking football. They also possess one of the bonafide stars of the World Cup in James Rodríguez. The Colombian sensation has scored in each of his World Cup games including THAT stunning strike against Uruguay. No doubt Brazil will look to shut down the Colombian danger man, but they would be wise to focus on Juan Cuadrado too as he has set-up four goals and scored one in the competition. Perhaps an unsung hero in the Colombian ranks has been David Ospina, who has been a calming presence in goal. If anything Colombia’s biggest threat could be their own complacency. Despite all the difficulties the Seleção have experienced, don’t underestimate Luiz Felipe Scolari’s ability to wring a performance out his squad and maximize the support of the Brazilian public. If things fall into place for Brazil then they can upset the rhythm of the Colombians. However, the fact that reasons are being sought to build-up Brazil should tell its own story.