Previously I had predicted that the final four of this year’s World Cup would be Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Holland, and I am happy to report that they have not yet let me down … too much.
Brazil have hardly looked their best following their draw with Mexico in the group stages and then having to hang on for dear life to beat Chile in a penalty shoot-out in their last game.
Similarly, Germany expended a lot more effort than anticipated to beat Algeria 2-1 last time out, and France is expected to give them a much harder time of things when the teams clash on Friday. By contrast, France looked at relative ease in their 2-0 win over Nigeria, even if they left it late, so my top four may not be as secure as originally thought.
Argentina limped to victory over Switzerland as it took an injury-time winner from Angel Di Maria to separate the teams. And again, Saturday’s opponents, Belgium looked considerably more comfortable when they defeated the battling USA last time out.
Even the Dutch had to rely on, what is in my opinion, a blatant dive from Arjen Robben to beat Mexico. And the fact that Wesley Sneijder’s thunderbolt to level matters came as late as the 88th minute, hardly inspires confidence.
The Netherlands face Costa Rica on Saturday, who themselves had to dig deep to deny Greece in their last match as they, too, were made to rely on a penalty shoot-out to progress.
Brazil vs Colombia
Colombia made short work of Uruguay when the sides clashed last Saturday as a James Rodriguez double was enough to see off a side without their talismanic Luis Suarez. While many attribute Uruguay’s exit from the World Cup to Suarez’s absence in this game, they should bear in mind that Uruguay have a few marquee players of their own such as Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan, and captain Diego Godin was hardly a shrinking violet in the competition either.
What Colombia may lack in the way of a star-studded line-up, they more than make up for in passion. In fact, the only notable names in the squad are Fredy Guarin of Inter Milan and James Rodriguez who plays for Monaco.
Passion only tends to go so far though, and in the face of what is a truly sparkling team like Brazil, I fear this is the end of the road for the Colombians. Brazil boast a number of household names, such as Dani Alves (Barcelona), Thiago Silva (PSG), David Luiz (PSG & Chelsea), Ramires (Chelsea), Willian (Chelsea), Hulk (Zenit), and Neymar (Barcelona).
I agree that while a team sheet hardly makes a team, consider that Luiz Felipe Scolari has already won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002. And given that Brazil will rightly see Colombia as the considerable threat they are, means the hosts should raise their game to the level required.
The writing’s on the wall for this one and I say it’ll finish 3-1 in favour of the hosts.