Hosts won't have it their own way

  • By: David John and Nick Hext
  • Last Updated: July 3 2014, 16:30 BST

David John and Nick Hext look ahead to Friday's World Cup quarter-finals with an impressive Colombia well up to testing Brazil.

Colombia should be able to push hosts Brazil closely
Colombia should be able to push hosts Brazil closely

The tension increases with a place in the last four at stake and the early kick-off looks sure to be cagey between two European big guns.

Colombia have caught the imagination so far and look well up to giving an emotionally charged Brazil a stern test in Fortaleza.

France v Germany (Quarter-finals, Rio de Janiero, 1700 BST)

The World Cup quarter-final action gets started with the eagerly anticipated clash between European heavyweights France and Germany.

There's plenty to relish about this Maracana meeting but I reckon it will take a little bit of time to get going.

All six of the final World Cup round of 16 matches were goalless at half-time and the last two went without a goal in the duration of normal time, Argentina and Belgium both progressed via extra-time on Tuesday.

The heat has been a major factor in the early kick-offs and can be expected to play a part in the tempo of this contest too.

Both of Germany's final two group games were also without a goal at the break and France ensured their progress from Group E as winners with a 0-0 draw against Ecuador.

I reckon this trend will continue and 13/8 with Paddy Power for the match to remain goalless at half-time makes appeal.

That will leave us set up for a very tense second half and I think Germany can just about get the job done.

It did take extra-time to get past Algeria last time out but Joachim Low's men were dominant for most of that game and having Manuel Neuer as the last line of defence is a big plus.

Andre Schurrle is another player to watch for Germany.

The Chelsea forward netted in extra-time when coming off the bench against Algeria and provides a real danger for the France defence.

He's 3/1 in the anytime goalscorer market but backing him to net last could well be the way to go at 17/2 with bwin.

Verdict: France 0 Germany 1 (NH)

Brazil v Colombia (Quarter-finals, Fortaleza, 2100BST)

The hosts have maintained their position at the head of the outright betting but from what I have seen so far, it is a rather tenuous grip.

I am no psychologist but the emotional frenzy that the Brazilians have whipped themselves into so far has looked detrimental to their game.

We are only just through the last-16 phase yet the draining nature of the penalty shootout success over Chile looked to take a huge amount out of Phil Scolari's men, many of them collapsed on the turf in tears.

They have potentially three more games to lift themselves for and there can only be so much left in the tank for them emotionally as the pressure is cranked up.

Technically they look beatable as well. The fear prior to the start of the tournament was that winning it will be down to Neymar and that has very much looked the case.

He has driven this team tremendously but it is physically impossible for him to both create and then score all goals. Chile certainly knew the tactic that was going to halt Brazil as Neymar twice had to come off for treatment as he finished the 120 minutes like a prize fighter have gone the distance.

He has declared himself fit for duty again though and rivals Colombia may not actually have to kick the Barcelona man off the park to win such is the impression they have made already.

They have not been hard pressed to win all their games so far and 11 goals scored has made them the second-most lethal to date in the tournament.

James Rodriguez has announced his arrival as a world star in no uncertain terms while coach Jose Pekerman looks as tactically astute as anyone on the touchline.

In Brazil's favour is the fact that no one team has stood out from the pack so far and that means there is still time to stamp their authority on proceedings.

But I feel Colombia and the wily Pekerman could force Brazil to the brink once more and although they have only ever beaten them twice, the last four clashes have all been draws with this Colombian outfit not short on self-belief.

I think they have a very solid profile to land an even money touch in the double chance market.

Verdict: Brazil 1 Colombia 1 (DJ)

  • Preview posted at 1620 BST on 03/07/2014.