Picking a Combined Brazil vs. Colombia 2014 World Cup XI
Colombia face Brazil in the second World Cup quarterfinal on Friday in a battle of two of South America's giants.
Ahead of the match, there will doubtlessly be much attention paid to comparing the two sides and, thus, here at Bleacher Report we have set about compiling a combined XI of the duo's best players.
However, rather than pick based upon reputation alone, our team will be solely selected from performances at the World Cup thus far.
Who, then, would make a combined XI from Brazil and Colombia over the past four matches?
GK: David Ospina
It has been a tournament of exceptional goalkeeping displays, and after his heroics in penalty shootout success over Chile, Brazil's Julio Cesar is perhaps a little unfortunate not to make this selection.
However, it is Colombian David Ospina whose continued high-level performances earn him a place in the side.
Funny how Premier League clubs remain unconvinced about LatAm goalies: Navas & Ospina (+ Ochoa) among the very best GKs in Brazil (1/2)— Tor-Kristian Karlsen (@karlsentk) June 30, 2014
Ospina has turned in a couple of outstanding performances already at the competition for Colombia, including in the last 16 against Uruguay.
Just 25 years old, his best years should be ahead of him and clubs around the world will be taking note.
RB: Camilo Zuniga
With Brazilian full-back Dani Alves thus far enduring a fairly torrid time of it at the World Cup, it is Colombia's Juan Camilo Zuniga who takes the right-back berth in our side.
A wonderfully assured player, Zuniga offers great abilities at both ends of the pitch, and that balance to his game has thus far been of tremendous use to Los Cafeteros.
Beyond attacking well, Zuniga has also dealt well with the likes of Alvaro Pereira, Keisuke Honda and Gervinho in defensive situations. He is currently showing his Brazilian rival how to play the role of attacking full-back.
CB: Mario Yepes
Mario Yepes may be 38 years of age, but he has rolled back the years over the past three weeks to lead from the back for his Colombian side.
Always an excellent technical defender, Yepes is extracting the last bit of energy from his legs to keep pace with some players nearly half his age. It is a defiant last stand.
Thiago Silva and David Luiz may both be among the most expensive centre-backs in history, but neither can claim to have matched Yepes this tournament. The former PSG star is very much getting the better of the Parisiens' new big-money pairing.
CB: Cristian Zapata
Cristian Zapata was always considered to be a centre-back of tremendous potential, combining strong technical attributes with pace and power in what should be a terrific combination. He has never quite reached that potential, though.
However, this World Cup competition is another story, with Zapata outstanding in his defensive work alongside Yepes. We are finally seeing the player that has always threatened to emerge.
He must ensure that none of the errors to which he can be prone emerge at this crucial stage, but on current evidence he looks as solid as he has in his entire senior career.
LB: Pablo Armero
The boundless energy offered by flying wing-back Pablo Armero never ceases to amaze and, thus far, he has enjoyed a wonderful tournament in a side set up to accommodate his gallops forward.
Armero started his tournament with a bang, getting on the scoresheet in the opening stages of Colombia's first game of the World Cup, and hasn't looked back since.
With Marcelo failing to meet expectations for Brazil, it is a straightforward decision that Armero should complete our all Colombian back five.
CM: Luiz Gustavo
That Luiz Gustavo will miss Brazil's clash with Colombia through suspension is a hammer blow to Luiz Felipe Scolari's side. The midfield general may be unfashionable, but he has been simply outstanding at the World Cup thus far.
19 - Luiz Gustavo has made the most interceptions at the 2014 #WorldCup. Anticipation.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 2, 2014
Now Brazil must face perhaps the tournament's best attacking side without him, and despite Fernandinho's presence, it will be a major concern. Since Scolari came to the helm, Luiz Gustavo has been a virtual ever-present.
While many around him have been misfiring, the Wolfsburg man has been calm and efficient in everything he has done sitting ahead of his defence. Without him, it is debatable that the Selecao would even have advanced this far given the flimsy nature of some of their defensive efforts thus far.
CM: Carlos Sanchez
For Colombia's attacking game plan to work, there needs to be someone in the side to break up play and quickly distribute to the flyers ahead of him. That man is Carlos Sanchez.
A key man for Los Cafeteros for some time now, Sanchez's hassling in midfield is a major but often overlooked feature of the side's play. He does the dirty work while others grab the plaudits.
Such is the life of a defensive midfielder, but he will mind little. With each passing game his reputation is growing considerably and he can look forward to some attractive offers coming his way later in the summer.
RW: Juan Cuadrado
Colombia winger Juan Cuadrado's pace and industry on the flank has been a major contributory factor in the team's successes thus far.
Given the speed and directness with which he runs with the ball, he has been essential to the side as a counter-attacking force and in opening up space for those around him.
4 - Juan Guillermo Cuadrado has the most assists at the 2014 World Cup. Provider. #COL— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 2, 2014
After an excellent season in Serie A, his stock continues to grow as fans and scouts alike continue to learn at Colombia's flying winger.
AMC: James Rodriguez
Perhaps the player of the tournament thus far, Colombian attacking midfielder James Rodriguez has ensured that fans the world over are now well aware of why Monaco parted with 45 million Euro for his services.
Rodriguez is currently top-scorer in the competition, with five goals to his name, and has been influential in orchestrating the Colombian attack from his position just behind the striker.
With his sensational volleyed effort against Uruguay and a previous moment of sublime quality to score against Japan with a dinked finish over the keeper, he has provided two of the World Cup's outstanding highlights thus far.
The boy with the weight of a nation on his shoulders has not disappointed, putting in a series of excellent displays to drag his underperforming side to the quarterfinal stage.
So disappointing have Brazil been that, at times, it appears that Neymar is the only member of the side with an ounce of creativity in his veins. At his best, though, he can carry a side and he has shown that for Brazil time and time again.
Just 22, it is difficult to overstate the maturity he has shown so far at the competition. Brazilian football is king when it comes to producing stars and Neymar is by far the brightest of the current generation.
ST: Jackson Martinez
Having started the tournament outside of Colombia's starting lineup, Porto striker Jackson Martinez has done well to come back and work his way into Jose Pekerman's starting XI.
While he has not been outstanding, he is the best of a poor bunch when it comes to picking a centre-forward. Teammate Teo Gutierrez has tailed off since a goal on his World Cup debut against Greece, while Brazil's Fred has been generally woeful.
Jackson's two goals against Japan earn him a place in our side and will likely see him spearhead the attack for Colombia against Brazil.