There simply aren’t enough words in the English language to describe how incredible the 2014 World Cup has been—it’s defied all expectations, no matter how lofty they were.
With extra-time drama, last-gasp goals and individual brilliance aplenty, it’s safe to say that Brazil has spoiled us with a tournament to remember.
Sixteen teams became eight last week as the quarter-finalists were confirmed. Here we give you a complete guide to where you can watch the drama unfold and predict who could reach the last four.
|Date||Time||Matchup||TV Info||Live Stream||Prediction|
|July 4||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||France vs. Germany||BBC One/ESPN2||BBC iPlayer/ESPN Player||1-1|
|July 4||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Brazil vs. Colombia||ITV1/ESPN||ITV Player/ESPN Player||1-2|
|July 5||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Argentina vs. Belgium||BBC One/ABC||BBC iPlayer/ABC Go||1-0|
|July 5||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Netherlands vs. Costa Rica||ITV1/ESPN||ITV Player/ESPN Player||2-1|
France vs. Germany
Friday sees a clash of Europe’s heavyweights in Rio de Janeiro, as France take on Germany with a semi-final place up for grabs.
The French have been faultless so far, romping to three convincing victories out of four, and while Germany are widely renowned as one of international football’s best, they’ll certainly have their work cut out against Didier Deschamps’ men.
Their opening 4-0 Group G victory over Portugal aside, Germany haven’t quite lived up to their billing and were ran close by Algeria in the round of 16 but just about progressed in extra time.
Replicating their performance from the last 16 will land Joachim Low’s side in hot water against France, and the German manager was quick to recognise that his side have plenty of room for improvement, per FIFA.com: “We must be better for the match against the French. Today was a victory of the will. During the first half we were poor, we gave away a lot of ball, which invited Algeria to counter-attack us.”
Two wins and two draws with three clean sheets has kept Germany’s tournament status and reputation intact, but their defensive line certainly needs improvement.
They’ve been caught out on the counter-attack several times in Brazil due to playing a high line, something that Gary Lineker finds bemusing considering Germany’s personnel:
The German high-line is bordering on suicidal. Cannot understand why they would play that way with Mertesacker.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 30, 2014
France will punish the Germans if they adopt a similar policy on Friday, but Low’s side have enough about them to make it an incredibly tight affair. This could be another one that goes all the way to the wire.
Prediction: France 1-1 Germany (France progress to the semi-finals AET)
Brazil vs. Colombia
Brazil’s stuttering World Cup journey continues on Friday, as they take on highly rated Colombia in Fortaleza.
The hosts have been far from their best so far, and were it not for having a lot of good fortune on their side, they’d have been sent packing already.
However, their luck may just run out against Colombia, who have proved that they’re more than worthy of a place in the last four.
The Colombians have been a joy to watch so far and harbour arguably the player of the tournament, James Rodriguez.
With five goals already, including at least one in every single match, Rodriguez sits atop the goalscoring charts, and he has been praised no end for his sublime performances in Brazil. Rio Ferdinand is among those impressed by the Monaco man:
James Rodriguez : 5goals 4assists in this World Cup ! Cheeky little man! Best celebration of the World Cup too! #RioInRio— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) June 28, 2014
Rodriguez will look to continue his good form against Brazil at the Estadio Castelao, and with the way that the Brazilian defence has been cut apart throughout the tournament, he may just enjoy himself on Friday.
Though World Cup hosts have a habit of grinding out results, Colombia’s confidence and attacking flair could prove the difference.
Brazil 1-2 Colombia
Argentina vs. Belgium
Two sides that were expected to breeze through the tournament meet in Brasilia on Saturday looking to peak at the right time and mount a charge for the trophy.
Having both emerged victorious in extra time in their round of 16 clashes against Switzerland and the USA respectively, Argentina and Belgium are now just 90 (or 120) minutes away from the semi-finals, with yet another closely fought affair expected.
Argentina have had very little to cheer about in Brazil following a string of heart-stopping victories, but having an in-form Lionel Messi in your ranks is more than enough cause for optimism.
The Barcelona star was the architect behind Angel di Maria’s extra-time winner against Switzerland, but admitted he feared for his nation’s place in the tournament, per BBC Sport:
I was nervous towards the end because we couldn't score and any mistake could have knocked us out. We were suffering but had a special play.
That special play was thanks to the genius of Messi, who has stepped up in Brazil according to the Mirror’s Oliver Holt:
Terrific break and perfectly weighted pass by Messi to set up that goal. Performing like superstar he is at this World Cup, when it matters— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) July 1, 2014
With four goals in the tournament already, the 27-year-old will be looking to continue his form against the Belgians.
Belgium aren’t the kind of team to just roll over, though, and they have shown an incredible amount of grit to emerge victorious in their tricky encounters so far.
This match will likely by won by whichever side’s defence copes the best with the attacking talent on display and Argentina may just have the edge.
Prediction: Argentina 1-0 Belgium
Netherlands vs. Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s World Cup story is one that just seems to be getting better and better.
Having negotiated Group D as winners at the expense of Uruguay, Italy and England, Jorge Luis Pinto’s side then managed to hold Greece to a draw with 10 men before progressing on penalties in the round of 16.
The Costa Ricans have made history in Brazil by reaching the quarter-finals for the first time, but their road could be coming to an end against Netherlands.
Though Louis van Gaal’s Dutch side were outplayed for large spells against Mexico, the two late goals they scored to secure victory showed just how much grit and determination they have.
Defender Ron Vlaar took to Twitter to voice just how much togetherness Netherlands have in their team:
If this World Cup has taught us anything, though, it’s that you can’t take anything for granted in international football, and Van Gaal will be more than aware of that fact.
Though Costa Rica will pose a big threat to Netherlands' chances of reaching consecutive finals, the class of the Dutch will shine through.
Prediction: Netherlands 2-1 Costa Rica