The round of 16 is over. Extra time has been played, the penalties have been taken and only eight teams remain in the running to win the 2014 World Cup as we head into the quarter-finals.
Many of the favourites were pushed to the very edge—Chile took hosts Brazil to a penalty shootout in Belo Horizonte, and Algeria proved unexpectedly troublesome to Germany—but, in the end, the usual suspects triumphed.
Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Netherlands, Argentina and Belgium were all heavily tipped to do well before a ball was kicked, and each are now just three victories away from lifting the most famous trophy in sport.
Costa Rica remain the only surprise package in the tournament and are the rank outsiders to beat the Netherlands and reach the semi-finals, but then they have been in the position of underdogs since the action got underway in Brazil.
How far can they and their fellow quarter-finalists realistically go?
Here are the full quarter-final fixtures with the odds for each outcome, via OddsShark.com.
|Match||Odds Home Win||Odds Away Win||Odds Draw||Prediction|
|France v Germany||54/25||37/25||23/10||0-2|
|Brazil v Colombia||5/6||193/50||51/20||1-2|
|Argentina v Belgium||29/25||69/25||12/5||1-2|
|Netherlands v Costa Rica||10/19||133/20||33/100||3-0|
German machine to rumble on
France and Germany get the quarter-finals underway on July 4 with an all-European affair. Joachim Low's Germany are favourites to beat the French, and that's hardly surprising as they are second favourites, behind Brazil, to win the whole tournament.
After opening their campaign with a resounding 4-0 win over Portugal, the Germans have had their struggles, and few people expected lowly ranked Algeria to take them to extra time in their last-16 match.
Some of their swagger has disappeared, but in Golden Boot contender Thomas Muller, who has four goals thus far, per WhoScored.com, they have a man who can turn any game.
And with Low having to pick between the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira in midfield, they have the depth in the squad to go a long way in this tournament.
Didier Deschamps has the French all pulling in the same direction at this World Cup, following Les Bleus' debacle at world Cup 2010, and they have a certain 'je ne sais quoi' in their game that can produce moments of magic to beat tough opponents.
That said, The Germans have been here before and reached the semi-finals on the last three occasions. The odds say they will do so again.
Prediction: Germany win
Brazil's biggest test
Tournament favourites Brazil—at 3/4, per Odds Shark—have not performed as expected thus far and have struggled against Central and South American opposition.
Mexico held Luiz Scolari's team to a 0-0 draw in the group phase, and Chile drew 1-1 in the last 16 before being dispatched in the penalty shootout. Colombia represent Brazil's toughest challenge yet and offer great value at around 3/1 for an upset victory.
Colombia forward James Rodriguez has been the revelation of the tournament thus far and leads the scoring charts with five strikes in just three starts, per WhoScored.com.
I played against him in the Champions League. Already in that game he showed his technical quality with his left foot. In this World Cup he is showing everyone that the money Monaco paid for him was well invested. The less space he gets against us, the better it will be for Brazil.
Neymar has largely been Brazil's sole threat thus far in the tournament, and if the likes of Fred and Oscar don't step up, it could be the end for the hosts.
Prediction: Colombia win
Belgium a Hazard for Argentina
This talented Belgium side came into the World Cup carrying great expectations but little experience. So far, they have answered every question that has been asked of them.
Marc Wilmots' side beat Algeria despite playing the majority of their opener with 10 men and then topped the group with three wins from three games.
In the knockout phase, their superior quality eventually showed against the USA, despite an amazing performance from goalkeeper Tim Howard, which earned the praise of captain Vincent Kompany.
Argentina, on the other hand, have cruised into the quarter-finals without having to be at the absolute best, although Switzerland took them to extra time in the last 16.
In Lionel Messi and Angel di Maria they have real match-winners and odds of 29/25, per Odds Shark, make them clear favourites to continue their run toward an expected place in the World Cup final.
However, Belgium will not lie down, and the fact they have had to fight to get this far could give them a competitive edge.
The likes of star midfielder Eden Hazard is also yet to find his best form, as is striker Romelu Lukaku, who came off the bench to score against the USA. On form, that duo can give the Belgian extra impetus.
The Red Devils also have a strong defence and strength in depth on the bench that should see them able to compete with Argentina. Odds of 69/25 offer decent value for the upset.
Prediction: Belgium win
End of the line for Costa Rica
Costa Rica have already overachieved in reaching the quarter-finals, and that is reflected in their odds of 133-20, per Odds Shark, to beat the Netherlands.
However, Los Ticos have already beaten Italy and Uruguay, so it might be tempting to take that bet and back them to pull off another shock against the Dutch.
Can Costa Rica cause another upset and beat Netherlands?
They do, after all, possess quality on the break and accuracy from the flanks.
But at this stage of the competition, world-class quality really does start to show, and in Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben, the Dutch have enough to see off Jorge Luis Pintos' team.
Louis van Gaal's side are 10-19 to win the game and although not great value, it is a fair reflection of what will probably happen.
Prediction: The Netherlands win