The second quarter-final is the mouth-watering all-Southern American affair between the mightily impressive Colombians and the not-so-impressive hosts Brazil. Can Brazil handle James Rodriguez? Will Neymar steal the show again? Jack Lang and Juan Arango go head-to-head in our latest expert v expert column.
Jack Lang on Brazil: A nation held its breath when it emerged that Neymar had picked up a knock in the Chile game, but it looks likely that Brazil’s boy wonder will be fit to start here – which is clearly great news given how little his fellow attackers have contributed so far. Fred will likely keep his place given the lack of top-quality back-up, while Oscar and Hulk should also continue. Luiz Gustavo is suspended, however, meaning one of Ramires or Hernanes will have to start in the middle.
Juan Arango on Colombia: There is a great deal of anticipation in Colombia as they are doing everything in their power to continue their fairytale run. Many pundits covering the World Cup are seeing Los Cafeteros as a team with all the tools to be able to go even deeper than they have already. José Pekerman is making all the necessary preparations for this match and is not being distracted with all the hype surrounding his star player, James Rodríguez. He is also not losing his focus despite all the talk of doom and gloom surrounding their opponents’ current form in the local press.
Jack Lang: They’re through to the last eight but Brazil have still not produced a performance to suggest they can win the World Cup. They started well enough against Chile but bad habits soon resurfaced: the Seleção seem incapable of playing the ball through midfield, instead relying on long balls to the flanks. Colombia could punish them if they fail to address these issues.
Juan Arango: Colombia were convincing in their victory against Uruguay and everything suggests they will remain unchanged . Although many that have analysed this match are talking about the mental aspect of the game. Brazil are currently in the midst of a media storm where they are worried over their mental state after the meltdown and outbursts after going to penalties against Chile. Despite all that, José Pekerman and company have made an effort to focus on the task at hand and deal with Brazil as if they were playing in top form. The reasoning behind that is that Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side is always capable of pulling out of their funk and playing brilliant football at any moment, regardless of the trends showing the complete opposite.
WHAT THE MANAGER SAYS
Brazil’s Luiz Felipe Scolari: “We had three or four chances to score a (second) goal and didn't do it. We had even possession and more shots on goal, but when you don't score you always run more of a risk. This is a new team and even the most experienced players feel pressure. If you say you don't, you are lying.”
Colombia’s José Pékerman: "Colombia are playing very well as a team, very solid. We are in good form but we know that the match is going to be very difficult because Brazil have the capability of preoccupying us and making us very uneasy."
Jack Lang: Brazil’s hopes again rest on Neymar’s shoulders, but another key man on this occasion will be Fernandinho, pictured above. With Luiz Gustavo out, the Manchester City man will have to play in a more defensive role, keeping track of James Rodriguez and dropping into the backline when required. He is more than capable of doing so, but will need to adapt to a new partner – probably Ramires – in the middle.
Juan Arango: With all eyes on Monaco man James Rodríguez, this could give the Fiorentina winger Juan Cuadrado a great chance to take advantage of a suspect Brazil defence. More importantly, he will have a tremendous matchup against Real Madrid left-back Marcelo. The former Fluminense man has been a liability for Brazil and having to face a player like Cuadrado could cause some complications. Colombia are effective in the wide positions and Cuadrado is key to that.
Jack Lang: Colombia/draw double chance at 1.97. One of these teams is struggling for fluency and low on confidence. The other has perhaps been the most impressive side in the tournament so far. Brazil have the home crowd on their side, of course, but sometimes you have to go with form. The odds on the Colombia/draw double chance look good.
Juan Arango: If Brazil focus on James, the spaces will be there for players like Cuadrado and even Jackson Martínez to take advantage. My bet would be for Cuadrado to be a goalscorer at odds of 7.00.
Jack Lang: Brazil 1-1 Colombia at odds of 7.00
Juan Arango: Brazil 0-2 Colombia at odds of 20.00
Bet on the quarter-finals now!