Eight nations will be cut to four over the weekend as the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil take place. The hosts are involved with the only pre-tournament favourites eliminated being Spain. The eight group winners all progressed from their second round ties with two needing penalty shootouts and three getting the job done in extra-time.
Here is a look at the four quarter-final matches:
France vs Germany
Germany looked unimpressive in their extra-time victory over Algeria in the last round, off the back of a 1-0 win over the USA and a 2-2 draw with Ghana. Manuel Neuer’s awareness in playing the sweeper role prevented the Bayern Munich goalkeeper really being forced into any difficult saves.
Thomas Müller still had the energy in extra-time although failed to fire many shots on goal after scoring 4 goals in the group stage. He did set up André Schürrle’s opener in extra-time though. Whoever is asked to mark the Bayern Munich forward has a tiring and tough job on their hands.
France were a little fortunate not to fall behind Nigeria in their second round match before the opposition goalkeeper made a howler to set up Paul Pogba’s open goal opener in the final ten minutes. They too haven’t looked so fluid in attack in their last two games, being held 0-0 by Ecuador and then being gifted two goals by Nigeria.
Karim Benzema has not found his shooting boots in his last two matches and few players beat Manuel Neuer from long range. If the German defence plays a high-line again, France could expose them with a bit of pace in behind. Didier Deschamps’ side doesn’t have that with Benzema or Olivier Giroud so look for a wide man to get involved.
I think we can expect a tight opening first half. Both these teams were 0-0 at half-time in the last round and I can see that being the case again.
Half-time draw is 1.95
Brazil vs Colombia
The hosts struggled to get through Chile and were saved by the crossbar in the last-minute of extra-time before winning their penalty shootout. Colombia were 2-0 winners over a Uruguay side that have failed to impress in two matches without Luis Suárez in this tournament.
Colombia have looked very impressive in all four of their matches, with only Japan pulling them back after falling behind. José Pékerman’s side have opened the scoring in each of their matches to this point and only the Netherlands (12) have scored more goals than Colombia’s 11 heading into the quarter-finals.
Brazil’s defence looks a bit shaky and vulnerable on the counter-attack too. The skill of James Rodríguez matches with the pace of both Juan Cuadrado and Jackson Martínez has great potential to score goals in this match.
Neymar is fully fit apparently after not looking so good at the end of extra-time in the last round. Hulk put in his best performance of the tournament so far but Luiz Felipe Scolari really needs to think about dropping Fred for this match.