Only eight teams remain at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after Tuesday saw Argentina and Belgium squeeze through their last-16 encounters against Switzerland and the United States respectively.
With the quarter-finals looming, the quality increases, but it is still almost as difficult to predict an eventual winner now as it was at the start of the tournament.
The Netherlands look to have the easiest last-eight encounter against Costa Rica, but aside from that match-up, the remaining three could go either way.
Read on for a look at the updated match lines for the quarter-finals as well as predictions as to how they are going to play out.
|World Cup 2014: Quarter-final Match Lines|
Germany and Colombia to Advance
Colombia have offered probably the best consistent value across the whole competition, yet are still being underestimated.
Brazil, on the other hand, have been very suspect and were fortunate to get past Chile on penalties in the last 16, just as they were lucky to beat Croatia in their group opener.
The stats suggest Los Cafeteros have the edge. They have won all four of their games convincingly in 90 minutes, Brazil have two wins and two draws. Colombia have scored nine and conceded two compared to the Selecao's eight for and three against.
Even individually Colombia look better. Brazil's golden boy Neymar has been impressive with four tournament goals, however, he has no assists and may be a concern for Friday's game in Fortaleza, per ESPN FC:
James Rodriguez has netted five times and assisted twice, per BBC Sport. Sports journalist Richard Moore sums things up in a pithy manner:
Meanwhile, Germany laboured to an extra-time victory against Algeria in the last-16 while France struggled to overturn Nigeria—but they both eventually made it through.
It looks set to be a tasty encounter at the Maracana on Friday with the sides very evenly matched. Both are capable of brilliance, considering Germany's 4-0 thrashing of Portugal and France's 5-2 win over the Swiss, but they can both can be undone at the back.
However, Germany are tournament specialists and they always go deep at World Cups, per Italian football writer Conor Clancy:
It will no doubt be close, but Joachim Low's side should see themselves through.
Predictions: Brazil 1-2 Colombia, France 1-1 Germany (Germany to advance on penalties)
Costa Rica and Argentina Going Out
Belgium and Argentina are two sides from whom much was expected in this tournament and thus far, neither have really delivered.
Each of them had a 100 percent record in the group stages, but their wins were never convincing, and they both needed extra-time drama to see themselves through the first knockout round. Thus the two sides are relatively evenly matched on their poor tournament form.
But Belgium have the edge in defence. Lionel Messi has been the difference for Argentina thus far as his deputies Angel di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain have underwhelmed, per the BBC's Gary Lineker:
The Swiss managed to restrict Messi for 118 minutes in the last 16, and Belgium can do the same while being more clinical in attack.
Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Divock Origi represent a more threatening attack than Switzerland's, while Vincent Kompany and a strong Belgian defence can marshall Messi in the same way Ottmar Hitzfeld's men did.
If Marc Wilmots can set his side up in the correct manner and exploit a weak Argentinian defence on the counter-attack, Belgium should be on for a famous win in Brasilia.
Finally, Costa Rica have made a wonderful run to reach this far in the tournament, but they have almost certainly reached the end of the road. They will be exhausted having gone all the way to penalties against Greece and they simply face a better side in the Netherlands.
Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and especially Arjen Robben should prove too much for the Costa Ricans to handle in Salvador, and the Dutch will roll on towards the semi-finals to potentially take on fellow Europeans Belgium.
Predictions: Argentina 0-1 Belgium, Netherlands 2-0 Costa Rica
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