The quarter-finals are upon us and one of the biggest games of the tournament to date will go on. Brazil take on Colombia in what will most certainly be an entertaining game to watch. Both teams have loads of talent between them and while both of them got to this point in completely different manners, they’re here and it’s hard to pick a winner.
Let’s start off with Brazil and their path to the quarter-final. They first handled Croatia well after the defensive lapse that caused Marcelo’s own goal 3-1. Then they went on to draw 0-0 against the Mexican team that was saved by astounding goalkeeper Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa. Then they destroyed Cameroon by a large enough margin (4-1) to hold on to first place in the group. Their final standing led to them playing against Chile, and while even though it was a sloppy second half, it was an emotional roller coaster for fans of the sport. Brazil kept on attacking and weren’t able to score, while Chile had very few attacks but nevertheless were so close to scoring every time. All of this led to the most stressful event for a player to go through, penalty kicks. Brazil had some mishaps with Willian and Hulk both unable to score a goal, but they were rescued by yet another amazing goalkeeper in Julio Cesar who kept out two penalties. The unimaginable happened when Gonzalo Jara appeared to have beaten Cesar but hit the post and it went out. Brazil had survived the upset by Chile, just barely.
Then we go to Colombia who had a tough group to deal with but found themselves a great group of players to rely on. They first started the World Cup by defeating Greece 3-1 where it was close, but Colombia definitely played the better game and ultimately finished better led by David Ospina making incredible saves. After that they had to play the Ivory Coast in what was the match of the group. They came out on top 2-1 with James Rodriguez appearing to have himself a sensational Group Stage so far. It continued when they faced Japan in the last game of the group stage when they completely dominated the Asian side 4-1 and finished in first place without losing a game. Their Round of 16 match saw them facing Uruguay; a team without leader Luis Suarez that was now not as strong as they could be but still a tough opponent. James Rodriguez scored two including one of the best goals of the tournament and held off the last Uruguayan barrage of attacks to win 2-0.
Players to Watch
Neymar – The clear-cut best player on the team is going to be the key for Brazil to win this game. Two scenarios can happen with Neymar; either Colombia plays him tough and targets him defensively most attacks so he’s forced to pass it off to Hulk or someone in the midfield, or Colombia plays him normally because they fear Hulk can punish them even with Ospina at goal. Whichever way they decide to play Neymar, expect him to have some sort of role in this game. He’ll either score some or cause some open space for Fred and Hulk to attack.
Maicon – With rumors coming that Scolari wants to replace Dani Alves because of poor performance, it’s clear the only real replacement for him would be Maicon. Alves hasn’t had his best games ever by any means during the World Cup and at times just looks lost, coming up-field for no reason at all leading to getting caught out of position on a counter-attack. Maicon is a much more defensive player and while not nearly as quick or offensive as Alves, that’s just not what Brazil needs. They need a defensive presence that will prevent strong attacks coming from that side of the field, and Maicon can provide just that. Roma’s full-back should be put in for the game, and if he is, expect him to be playing extremely well.
James Rodriguez – “Hames” as most are calling him now, is the young superstar that is having the best World Cup out of everyone in the tournament. He’s been playing phenomenally every game and that should carry over to this game as well. He’s the engineer of the team, able to pass the ball and create plays for others while at the same time able to finish shots like the ones he had against Uruguay and then take control of possession. He will be a presence for the team and expect him to grab a goal or an assist during the game.
Juan Cuadrado – Another rising player who is getting better by the game, Cuadrado is quick and precise with his passes and shots it’s no wonder why Colombia is in the position they’re in. Cuadrado will be most likely be dealing with Marcelo and with all the trouble that he’s had defending fast attackers, this match-up greatly benefits Cuadrado the most. I expect a lot of plays to start with Rodriguez and end up with Cuadrado taking it up the field and sending in a cross or taking it in on his own to score.
Keys to Victory
Brazil – What Brazil needs to do in order to win this game is not make any mistakes. This is the reason why their game against Chile was so stressful, one mistake and Alexis Sanchez was able to capitalize and score what would be the tying goal. They’ve had these plenty of times throughout the cup and Colombia isn’t a team you want to make a mistake with. With Maicon coming in hopefully, those will definitely be minimized but then the focus turns to Marcelo who hopefully can handle the task of guarding Cuadrado.
Colombia – What Colombia needs to do is not get confident with an early lead. If Colombia ends up getting the first goal of the game, they need to stay composed and not get too confident, Brazil has made it this far without playing well, if they turn on the jets they can come back and win the game, easily. So what Colombia needs to do is learn from the mistakes of other teams, don’t play defensive because it costs you in the end. (Mexico, USA) If they can maintain good play they could still win this game even if they concede a goal.
It’s a tough one, but in the end I believe that with Scolari finally noticing some stuff isn’t right with their striker and right-back, he makes the correct changes that will ultimately lead to Brazil finally playing some of their best football. With that being said, Colombia will also be coming at full force and with both teams playing their best, this game will go to extra time. These two teams are too even not to go the distance. James Rodriguez will show why he’s the young superstar that he is and Neymar will try to match and out-do that and lead his country into the semi-final. When it’s all said and done, Brazil will be the team who comes out on top and moves onto the semi-final. Brazil 3-2 (Extra Time)
This game….is important to say the least. Brazil, the home team in the World Cup with immense pressure from their country is three wins away from achieving total victory. Colombia, the team that everyone doubted the moment Radamel Falcao wasn’t put on the final squad for the World Cup, that rose up and destroyed every team in its path thus far and has now made it into the quarterfinal. Two superpowers of South America, one game that could change the landscape of the football universe for the next couple of years, one game that could start or extend the legacies of some players…one game that could bring one team a step closer to giving their home country the World Cup they’ve craved for some time or could be the start of a dynasty for a team with rising young stars.