First day of the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals with the two arguably bigger matches. It starts off with France facing Germany at the Estadio Maracana, and continues with Brazil playing against Colombia at the Castelao in Fortaleza.
Unlike the predictions from before the tournament, France reach this clash with their neighbors as the favorites. They’ve been playing better through most of this world cup and haven’t shown a real weakness that can be exploited right away. Germany on the other hand hasn’t looked very good attacking or defending since their opening win, and the four centre back lineup didn’t do very well against Algeria.
The rare occurrence in this match will be that both teams will try and dominate possession, something we rarely see coming from two teams in one match. Germany don’t have speed on the wings and aren’t exactly built to thrive on counter attacking, especially with a thin midfield and a defensive line that has been exposed by both Ghana and Algeria so far in the tournament.
France should try and start without Olivier Giroud up front. They’re better when Benzema plays in the middle, having Valbuena on his right and Griezmann to his left. Giroud is the true target man, but defends like Germany’s have an easier time handling his kind than the quickness and movement of Benzema.
After the battle of European giants is over, we head over to another match between two sides with the roles reversed than what would have been expected before the tournament. Colombia have been arguably the best team in this tournament so far, with James Rodriguez as the MVP. Neymar himself hasn’t been disappointing, but most of his teammates have.
Colombia play as a team. Cuardado and Ibarabo are attacking wingers but they do a tremendous job defensively. Aguilar holds down the fort in the midfield. There’s plenty of discipline and organization, but it doesn’t come at the expense of creativity when Colombia are on the counter attack. Meanwhile, Brazil don’t look like a team that knows what it’s trying to achieve except for winning.
Still, beating Brazil against the fans and arguably the officials (although that Hulk hand ball showed it’s a bit more complicated than that) isn’t a simple task, and it’s probably going to take the best of Colombia’s defending and the most clinical of finishing to avoid the fate of Chile from the previous round.