Belgium beat the USA in one of the best matches of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil on Tuesday night to take the last quarter-final spot of the tournament.
The Americans put in a blistering performance, but the Belgian quality shined through—a feature of a number of the last-16 ties.
Germany, Argentina, Netherlands, Brazil and France—along with Belgium—all struggled against their so-called lesser opponents in the last 16, but they still made it through.
Costa Rica went all the way to penalties to overcome Greece. Only Colombia completely convinced. However, the result is that the quarter-finals are made up of all eight group-winners, a first for any World Cup, per Squawka:
Read on for a full fixture list as well as television information for all four matches and a preview of the stand-out game of the round.
|World Cup 2014: Quarter-final Schedule|
|Date||Time (BST/ET)||Fixture||TV Info||Live Stream|
|July 4||5 p.m./noon||France vs. Germany||BBC1/ESPN2||BBC iPlayer/ESPN Player|
|July 4||9 p.m./4 p.m.||Brazil vs. Colombia||ITV/ESPN||ITV Player/ESPN Player|
|July 5||5 p.m./noon||Argentina vs. Belgium||BBC1/ABC||BBC iPlayer/ESPN Player|
|July 5||9 p.m./4 p.m.||Netherlands vs. Costa Rica||ITV/ESPN||ITV Player/ESPN Player|
Hosts Must Improve
Hosts Brazil undoubtedly face their toughest test yet against Colombia when the two sides meet in Fortaleza on Friday. The two teams have had contrasting tournaments thus far, Brazil flattering to deceive while Colombia progressed with confidence and style.
Brazil must improve if they are to avoid crashing out of their own tournament at the quarter-final stage as, on tournament form, Colombia look well equipped to beat the Selecao, per the Independent's Tom Peck:
Neymar has been Brazil's saving grace so far—he has four goals—and without their 22-year-old star they would likely already be out of the competition.
Colombia have their own star in James Rodriguez, who has been magnificent and is currently the tournament's top scorer with five.
However, Colombia have also looked by far the most complete team in the tournament so far, and Rodriguez is confident his side can get past Brazil in their first ever World Cup quarter-final, per Fox Soccer:
Regarding Brazil, they are a hard team, they have great players and they also have their history. I believe that we have to come out onto the pitch to win as we have always done and to always attempt to win. I only want to help. I am at a good level, we're also scoring goals and I am happy because of that.
Brazil's defending must improve in Fortaleza as Colombia's width could cause them genuine problems, the like of which they have yet to face in the tournament.
While a mixture of fortune, support and a touch of quality has just been enough to see them through to the last-eight, that will not be sufficient against Colombia.
Brazil are still favourites to win the tournament, but that is as much informed by their status as hosts and their home advantage as it is by their quality of play.
If they do not improve on their performances so far when they face Los Cafeteros it will be the end of the road for Brazil at their own tournament and the World Cup will carry on without them.