Its Quarter-Final time! The World Cup is into the last 8 stage already and come Friday 4 July it will be time for the best of the best to take the field. There are some mouth-watering ties ahead, here is Brandish’s preview to the 4 games.
FRANCE v GERMANY (Friday 4 July 5pm BBC1)
Probably one of the most historical clashes of the 4 ties this, France who scraped through a World Cup qualifying play-off take on Germany who have been one of people’s favourite for many years.
France were third seeds in their group but after victories over Honduras (3-0) and Switzerland (5-2) and a draw with Ecuador (0-0), they progressed comfortably to the knock-out rounds. Nigeria held them for 79 minutes but France would win 2-0 as Paul Pogba and a Joseph Yobo own goal saw the resistance broken.
Germany meanwhile beat Portugal 4-0 and USA 1-0 to add to their 2-2 draw with Ghana as progress was assured. France would have been delighted though as Algeria took the Germans to extra-time in their Last 16 match. It would be Andre Schurle and Mesut Ozil who finally sent the African’s home 2-1.
PAUL POGBA (France) – Supremely talented individual Paul Pogba will be desperate to reach the last 4 of the World Cup and once again show the former Man Utd youngster what they are missing. Can turn a game on its head and will need to have a big game tomorrow.
THOMAS MULLER (Germany) – Perhaps the obvious choice but you can’t argue with this man’s World Cup record, simply phenomenal! 9 goals in 10 games means it must be something about the surname Muller as his namesake Gerd also tore the competition to pieces in 1970. Notable mention to goalkeeper Manuel Neuer who played the libero role perfectly against Algeria by showing his out of the box talents!
Germany have this in my eyes, it’ll be close so i’ll say 2-1 Germany.
BRAZIL v COLOMBIA (FRIDAY 4 July 9pm ITV1)
The hosts v everyone’s team of the tournament so far… Can’t get much better than that! There will be a lot of tormented neutrals in this game as everyone secretly wants Brazil to make the final and not so secretly want Colombia to continue their impressive form.
Brazil recovered from the early embarrassment of conceding the first goal of the cup to an own goal to beat Croatia 3-1 and would then draw 0-0 with the Mexicans before dispatching Cameroon 4-1. Their progress to the quarters was blocked by a tough Chilean team who very nearly put them out. Pinilla hit the cross bar late in extra time that meant the 1-1 game would go to penalties. Jara hit the post and Brazil survived!
Colombia have eased to the last 8 thus far, 9 out of 9 points in the group with 9 goals scored and then a 2-0 victory of Uruguay. This means the Colombians are flying further than they ever have before as the president declares a national holiday for everyone to watch this fame!
NEYMAR (Brazil) – Who else? If Neymar plays well, Brazil plays well. He has 4 this World Cup and 35 in 53 for his beloved country. That international record is the best of anyone in world football since the last World Cup and you can bet he’ll be getting a lot of the ball on Friday. Doubts remain however over his fitness, something home fans will be sweating over.
JAMES RODRIGUEZ (Colombia) – Again, who else? Some people who don’t follow European football all that regularly will be shocked by the rise of this man but in fact Monaco actually paid €45m for him last summer. How do you sum up his World Cup? 5 goals and 2 assists in 5 games goes some way, lets not forget he scored the goal of the tournament so far too! He will have to be at his best to overturn Brazilian home advantage.
My heart says Brazil, my heart wants it to be Brazil… My head though say Colombia and my head wants it to be Colombia. I almost wish this game was the final but alas seeing as I can’t call it i’ll say 2-2 after extra time and let penalties decide!
ARGENTINA v BELGIUM (Saturday 5 July 5pm BBC1)
The little Argentinan magician of Lionel Messi will be hoping his side pull their finger out a bit more for this game after his individual beating of Switzerland. Belgium are probably the most well acquainted team of all time with the phrase “dark horses”, no ones actual favourites but a side that many expected to get this far.
4 wins out of 4 for Argentina at this point but lets not flatter them, they haven’t always been at their best. They beat Bosnia & Herzegovina 2-1 thanks to Messi, Iran 1-0 thanks to Messi, Nigeria 3-2 thanks to Messi and then saw off Switzerland in extra-time, you guessed it, thanks to Messi (even if it was Di Maria that got the final strike). Leo will surely be asking the rest of his team to get involved after what can only be described as a one man team so far.
Belgium made much steadier ‘team’ progress to get here, conceding only 1 in the group games. That was to Algeria on the opening day as they went on to win that 2-1 then beat Russia and Korea to 0 before being taken right to the wire by USA. They scored twice in extra-time and held off a US fightback to get through 2-1.
ANGEL DI MARIA (Argentina) – It’s basically because I can’t pick Lionel Messi for everything… Angel Di Maria had a shocking game against Switzerland with nothing he tried coming off but he kept going and as Leo teed him up he slotted home to save Argentina from penalties. He was fantastic for Real over the past 6 months and he needs to find that form again if Argentina are to lift the trophy.
DIVOCK ORIGI (Belgium) – Aged 19, Origi has become something of a find this World Cup. He’s been heavily linked with Liverpool after some solid displays and with a goal against Russia he also looked one of the best v USA. Belgium have to score against Argentina and Origi could be the man to do that.
Tough to call this, Belgium don’t really concede but also don’t score many either. Argentina will once again be totally reliant on Leo Messi so I reckon he’ll nab the winner in a drab 1-0.
NETHERLANDS v COSTA RICA (Saturday 5 July 9pm ITV1)
Netherlands and Costa Rica have both surprised people and meet together here in this quarter final. No one had any hope for the Costa Ricans but purpose just as many had written off the Dutch (including myself), this then could be as equally surprising a tie.
Netherlands stunned the world with their 5-1 dismantling of Spain on the opening day of Group B. They then slugged it out with the Aussies earning the 3-2 victory and beat Chile 2-0 to make it 10 goals scored in 3 games. Van Gaal’s men know how to win and by the virtue of some fortune that every good side needs they saw of Mexico 2-1 with a late, late surge.
Costa Rica have quickly become everyone’s soft spot. They were the “whipping boys” of a group containing England, Uruguay and Italy but qualified successfully with 7/9 points. It took penalties to beat Greece meaning the only side who have stopped them winning so far is ironically England!!
ARJEN ROBBEN (Netherlands) – Ok so we all know Arjen Robben is a selfish, ball-hogging, diver… BUT he is a flipping genius with the ball too. With 3 goals and 1 assist in his 4 matches, he also ‘earned’ the penalty that took Holland past Mexico. He will be paired with Robin Van Persie once again as the pair look to find the same level they reached when they tore Spain to pieces.
KEYLOR NAVAS (Costa Rica) – A goalkeeper as the key man? I’m afraid so! Costa Rica can score goals don’t get me wrong but they have their man between the sticks to thank for a lot of their progress. He saved the decisive penalty v Greece as well as pulling off a number of fantastic saves and has to be on top of his game to stop the free-scoring Dutch.
Goals will be too much for Costa Rica I’m afraid, Holland to make it to a second successive Semi-Final fairly comfortably, 3-1.
Wow… I really cannot wait now!!