Okay, you can breathe, the World Cup 2014 round of 16 is over.
With drama the likes of which the World Cup has never seen before, five out of the eight last 16 fixtures went to extra time, setting a new record for the tournament—per ESPN’s Dale Johnson:
More Round of 16 games (five) have gone to extra-time in this World Cup than in any other. Italia 90 previously had the most with four.— Dale Johnson (@dalejohnsonESPN) July 2, 2014
Every group winner has now made it through to the last eight (just about), where the drama is set to continue and have us once again in awe at such an amazing tournament.
Here are the quarter-final fixtures and odds with an in-depth look at what could be the game of the round.
|Match||Odds Home Win||Odds Away Win||Odds Draw||Predicted Score|
|France vs. Germany||54-25||37-25||23-10||1-1 (Germany progress in ET)|
|Brazil vs. Colombia||5-6||77-20||53-20||0-1|
|Argentina vs. Belgium||15-13||29-10||12-5||0-0 (Belgium progress in ET)|
|Netherlands vs. Costa Rica||10-19||133-20||333-100||2-0|
Game of the Round—Brazil vs. Colombia, July 4
It hasn't been as easy a ride as many people anticipated at the World Cup for hosts Brazil, but they've had one very valuable asset to call upon in their time of need.
No, it's not forward sensation Neymar but Lady Luck. The Brazilians have had enormous strokes of fortune as the tournament has progressed, none more so than during their penalty shootout victory over Chile in the last 16.
Luiz Felipe Scolari's side were the width of a crossbar away from being eliminated from their own competition after Mauricio Pinilla struck the woodwork with seconds remaining in extra time, but they just about managed to progress.
However, with arguably the team of the tournament looking to crash the Brazilian party in the last eight, the hosts' luck may just have run out.
Colombia have been absolutely irresistible all tournament, and if their form continues, then not only will they have crashed the Brazilian party, they'll have made it their own.
As Gary Lineker correctly said via Twitter, watching the Colombians has been a privilege, with one player in particular standing out.
Colombia are a delight to watch.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 19, 2014
James Rodriguez, the World Cup's top scorer with five goals, will be looking to give another defence nightmares come Friday and continue his push for the Golden Boot.
However, Brazil are well aware of the kind of threat that the 22-year-old will pose them, and midfielder Fernandinho appreciates that he’s an integral cog in the Colombian machine—per FIFA.com:
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.
If Rodriguez does find space in which to operate, then the repercussions could be devastating for Brazil—as he's proved throughout the tournament so far.
However, the Brazilians are a determined side and will be looking to silence their South American counterparts in all areas of the pitch in Fortaleza.
Striker Neymar, who is one goal behind Rodriguez in the scoring charts, told a press conference that he and his teammates don't care how beautiful their football is, as long as they emerge victorious—as FIFA.com reported:
I don't want a show. That's the last thing we are trying to do. We are not necessarily here to produce a spectacle. We are here to run to the end, until we are tired, and come out as winners. I would be happy to do nothing in this game if Brazil won 1-0. That would be marvellous.
The knockout-stage matches have been incredibly tight so far, and Neymar's prediction of a 1-0 victory won't be too far away from reality, but it may not be his side that prospers.
Colombia look a nation more worthy of being hosts than the hosts themselves, and if Rodriguez can find a way to fire, then it could be curtains for Scolari’s men.
Prediction: Brazil 0-1 Colombia