Scotland V England Saturday 24th February. 4:45PM. BBC One Scotland v England renew their rivalry…
Brazil V Colombia – Friday 4th July. 9PM. ITV
Host nation Brazil are back in action on Friday night as they face South American rivals Colombia in Fortaleza.
With Colombia playing some unbelievable football, this quarter-final has all the makings of a classic and should be bursting with drama from start to finish.
Who will book their place in the semi-final?
Brazil Must Improve
The hosts have been somewhat fortunate so far as they’ve managed to navigate their way to this stage without ever really excelling. There’s no second chances now, though, and they’ll have to be much stronger if it’s going to be a home triumph for the Selecao stars.
It took just 11 minutes for the cracks to show as the hosts fell behind to Croatia in the curtain-raiser and Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side have rarely looked like potential world champions. Brazil have drawn two of their four matches so far and must improve as they prepare to face Colombia, who will provide their sternest challenge so far.
The one bright spark for Scolari’s men has been Golden Boy Neymar. The weight of a nation rests on the shoulder’s of this 22-year-old and up until now the Barcelona man has answered the call, notching four goals in addition to cooly converting his penalty in the shootout win over Chile.
Nevertheless, his teammates must take some of the strain away from Neymar’s shoulders if it’s going to be a sixth world title. Of the attacking players, only Oscar has made any consistent contributions – the like of Hulk and Fred must pull their weight against Colombia.
On the bright side, Brazil appear to have mastered the skill of winning ugly. However, you simply cannot win a World Cup without performing. Now is the time for heroes.
We know that Brazil do have an extra gear in their locker, we may need to see it in Fortaleza.
Can Colombia Cause Upset?
Of all 32 competing nations it is Colombia who have showcased the best performances to date, could the South Americans cause a major upset by beating the hosts here?
The fact star striker Radamel Falcao is missing the tournament through injury has not prevented Colombia from finding the net and the South Americans have already hit 11 goals in their four matches to date, which is three more than their quarter-final opponents.
In striker James Rodriguez the Cafeteros boast the World Cup’s leading scorer and both he and Jackson Martinez will strike fear into a vulnerable Brazil defence. Colombia mean business and are set to give the hosts a real run for their money.
However, it is worth noting that they have enjoyed their fair share of luck on route to the quarter-final. Nobody can argue with their dominant displays in the group phase, but the level of opponent faced was particularly weak.
In fact, Group C was probably the poorest of all eight groups and perhaps we should take their results with a small pinch of salt. Likewise, they got fortunate in the fact that Uruguay’s Luis Suarez was banned in the last 16.Without Suarez, Uruguay looked particularly poor and Colombia can expect a much tougher match against Brazil.
The underdogs shouldn’t be ruled out, but we think the hosts will find a route to victory.
Brazil V Colombia Betting
Despite Colombia’s strong form heading into the match, it is Brazil who enter the contest as odds on favourites at 17/20 with Bet365. Meanwhile, the underdogs are priced at 15/4 to cause a shock and the draw can be backed at 13/5.
The last four meetings between these sides have ended all square, with three of them ending goalless. However, we’re anticipating that both sides will adopt an attacking philosophy in Fortaleza and believe that there will be plenty of chances at both ends.
With the likes of Neymar and Rodriguez on the pitch, we’d expect each team to bury at least one chance during the 90 minutes.
BTTS Yes is Evens with Bet365
While Colombia have played well during this tournament, this is where the real competition begins and we’re expecting Brazil to turn it up a notch in this quarter-final clash.
Manager Scolari has successfully guided one bunch of Brazil stars to a World Cup title and repeating the feat on home soil with this current crop would be the ultimate achievement. Every tournament needs a hero and the stage is still set for Neymar to emerge as the star of 2014.
The 22-year-old boasts 35 goals in just 53 Selecao appearances and is the most likely man to drag Brazil to an unprecedented sixth title.
Neymar is 4/1 to score first with Ladbrokes