The 2014 edition of the World Cup has proved largely predictable thus far, except of course for results involving England, Spain, Italy and Portugal. At this stage of the competition, however, any of the last four teams may stake a claim for the World Cup crown.
The one thing all these teams have in common is balance – they all seem to have achieved a delicate point of equilibrium between defense and attack and is probably the major reason they are still in it.
With Neymar no longer featuring for the five-times World Champions following a lumbar fracture, the hosts have been left infuriated and rather disconsolate. This is the sort of situation that either spurs a team on to glory in spite of adversity, or dooms the side to a competition exit – think back to France 1998 when Ronaldo was unable to take any further part in Brazil’s campaign.
Brazil face the imperious German army on Tuesday night, themselves three-times winners, while Netherlands square off against Argentina 24 hours later.
Interestingly, Netherlands is the only country remaining in the competition never to have won a World title, but as stated in my quarterfinal preview, this may well be the best opportunity they’ve ever had of claiming glory.
Four years ago the Dutch were left helpless as Spain simply ran riot over the course of ninety minutes in the final. This time around, however, they’ve been more than capable of going toe-to-toe with the very best in the competition. Having soundly beaten Spain 5-1 in their opening match, they then went on to a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Australia.
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