With the quarter finals of the 2014 World Cup just round the corner, it’s time to take a look at the likely outcomes of the matches and how the tournament will pan out.
France v Germany
Before the World Cup began this match up would have been a no brainer; the two teams involved had significantly polarizing performances at the previous World Cup. Germany’s attacking dominance shone through and was only expected to continue into this World Cup. France on the other hand suffered a complete meltdown and showed little promise before the start of this tournament.
Yet both teams have given excellent displays in Brazil. In their opening game Germany thrashed Portugal 4-0. France hammered Switzerland 5-2, scoring goals in quick succession. Yet both teams are without weaknesses. For large portions of the game Germany looked a weaker side against Algeria, who eventually bowed after forcing extra time. They have been held to a draw by Ghana,and only narrowly beat the USA. France, similarly, were also held to a draw by a less than in-form Ecuador side.
However the outcome of this fixture may come down to outside factors. The Germans are bound to be more tired than the French having travelled further for their fixtures, played 120 minutes against Algeria and flu has swept across the camp, prompting Joachim Low to admit a third of the players are suffering symptoms.
Neither side look solid at the back; Neuer’s sweeper-keeper antics saved Germany in the round of sixteen and France conceded sloppy goals against Switzerland. I think France may just edge this one, and Paul Pogba may just be the difference, so I’m backing them to go through.
Brazil v Colombia
Many questions continue to be asked of Brazil throughout this tournament, especially when only narrowly beating Chile in a penalty shootout in the round of sixteen. The pressure is mounting – they are expected to bring the trophy home in their own back yard; but standing in their way are arguably the most in-form team of the tournament.
For Brazil the tears have been flowing non-stop throughout the tournament. Players break up during the national anthem, when they’re injured, and after the penalty drama against Chile. The pressure is clearly getting to them. They are still yet to hit top form, and the team looks like a group of individuals, with the majority of hopes pinned on Neymar. Luckily for Brazil, he has been passed fit for the game despite suffering knocks to his knee and thigh.
For Colombia, there is no pressure at all. The team works together as a cohesive unit, and a certain James Rodriguez has still managed to shine. They have already surpassed all expectations, but knocking out Brazil, in Brazil, may just give them momentum to carry into the final. It’s hard to imagine how well this team would have performed if Falcao was in the side.
If Brazil hit top form just when it counts, this result should fall in their favour. However, I’m not assured that they will in time for this game and am therefore going for, and hoping for, a Colombian upset.
Argentina v Belgium
This quarter-final game, on paper, displays two teams of the highest calibre, constructed entirely of stars. Argentina have immense firepower in Messi, Aguero, Di Maria, Higuain and Lavezzi. Belgium have a core of Premier League players; Kompany, Vertonghen, Fellaini, Hazard, Mirallas and Lukaku, alongside the talented De Bruyne and Mertens. Yet neither team has performed to their potential. Hazard is yet to hit any kind of form and Di Maria had an awful performance against Switzerland despite scoring the winner. Messi has, of course, popped up when required, and it’s usually his goals that see Argentina through.
With neither team cruising through to this stage this affair is going to be a tight one. Belgium were rocked by the USA in the second half of extra time, the experience and fitness of the stars in their squad just about seeing them through. Defensively, the likes of Kompany and Vertonghen should be enough to prevent an under-performing Argentina attack from scoring, but Belgium don’t really offer anything going forward.
It looks like Lionel Messi might just be the difference between the two sides and his quality goes unmatched, so I’m going for an Argentina win, although this could be another game we see head into extra-time.
Netherlands v Costa Rica
Costa Rica have proved to be another hidden package in this tournament, after winning their group which everyone predicted they would come bottom of. Their last game against Greece did not prove to be their best performance of the tournament but prior wins over Italy and Uruguay is evidence enough that they have a special something.
The Netherlands meanwhile scraped into the quarter finals by the skin of their teeth; a late comeback saw them beat Mexico. However their position in this tournament has been undermined by Arjen Robben’s admittance that he dived to win the penalty that knocked out Mexico, and it is now thought that their success in this tournament is unjust.
Whilst the Netherlands squad boasts far more quality than that of Costa Rica’s, their inconsistency after beating Spain 5-1 hasn’t gone unnoticed.
It looks like it will be a comfortable win for the Netherlands, although I’m sure many people will be backing a Costa Rica win for this fixture.