World Cup Diary
Two great quarter-finals to look forward to on Friday.
What happened last night?
It was a second day of rest for the eight remaining nations as the build-up to a weekend of appetising quarter-finals continued.
While there was no footballing action, there was, however, plenty of pre-match chatter, with coaches and players fulfilling their pre-match media duties.
Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari proclaimed that his team have one hand on the World Cup trophy already, but there was more caution from his Colombian counterpart Jose Pekerman, who admitted the host nation have yet to hit top form ahead of the their meeting in Fortaleza.
The mind games were also being played in the lead-up to the all-European clash between Germany and France, as Joachim Low revealed that seven of his players had been struck down with flu.
That didn’t necessarily wash on Didier Deschamps, who declared the Germans are more ‘accustomed to this competition’ and that they will be favourites having reached the semi-finals of the last three World Cups.
It all makes for a very interesting Friday evening!
What’s happening today?
Two of the quarter-finals – Brazil v Colombia and Germany v France – kick-off at 5pm and 9pm respectively.
The first of the day’s two games promises to be a colourful, end-to-end, attack-minded affair. Will Brazil be able to handle the weight of expectation from their glory-craving supporters? Or can Colombia continue their fairytale adventure and chalk up their fifth successive win at the tournament?
The bookies make Brazil favourites and history suggests why – Colombia have won just two of their 25 previous meetings and have never defeated their opponents on Brazilian soil.
On paper, the later kick-off is a much tougher contest to call. This will be the 26th clash between the sides; France have won 11 times, Germany eight.
This game also brings back memories of the 1982 World Cup semi-final and a horrific incident involving Germany goalkeeper Harald Schumacher and Patrick Battiston. The French forward was left with teeth missing and broken bones after a tackle more associated with something witnessed in a kick-boxing fight.
Thirty-two years have since passed, but it still remains one of the most controversial moments in World Cup history.
Who should I be looking out for today?
One certainty after this evening’s game is that two of the tournament’s leading figures will have departed.
In the battle of the forwards, it’s Neymar v James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema v Thomas Muller.
If any of the aforementioned forwards can continue their fine goalscoring run, their respective nations will surely have a strong chance of making it into the semi-finals.