Brazil are still the favourites to claim the 2014 World Cup as hosts, but they face their toughest challenge yet when they face a strong Colombia side in the quarter-finals on Friday.
The Selecao have been inconsistent to say the least during the competition, only scraping past Chile in the last 16 on penalties.
Equally, the likes of Germany, Argentina and the Netherlands have also laboured to various victories with perhaps only Colombia looking entirely convincing on their way to the last eight.
The lack of a standout team has made for a terrifically exciting tournament, and with no side having staked a genuine claim to be called favourites, the competition is still wide open.
Read on for a look at the latest odds for the outright winner and quarter-final matchups as well as a full schedule for the last eight.
|Date||Fixture||Odds (Home/Draw/Away)||Time (BST/ET)||Venue|
|July 4||France v Germany||21-10/23-10/6-4||5 p.m./noon||Rio De Janeiro|
|July 4||Brazil v Colombia||17-20/27-10/15-4||9 p.m./4 p.m.||Fortaleza|
|July 5||Argentina v Belgium||6-5/23-10/11-4||5 p.m./noon||Brasilia|
|July 5||Netherlands v Costa Rica||1-2/10-3/7-1||9 p.m./4 p.m.||Salvador|
While almost all the teams still left in the competition have had their scares—especially in the last-16 stage—they were all the respective winners of their groups, per Squawka, thus showing that the quality sides have made it through:
However, from those quality sides, it is almost impossible to pick a winner, as each one of them has looked shaky at some point—apart from Colombia—and seem one mistake away from crashing out of the tournament.
The so-called lesser sides in the first knockout round pushed the bigger names all the way. Germany needed extra time to come through against Algeria; the same is true for Belgium with the USA and Argentina with Switzerland.
Based on pure squad quality, these nations should have breezed through to the last eight, but they were made to work, and all will need to up their game as they move through the competition.
Will Brazil win the World Cup?
Brazil needed penalties to beat Chile—as did Costa Rica to see off Greece—while the Netherlands beat Mexico courtesy of a last-minute penalty, and France eventually came good to beat Nigeria.
Colombia comfortably beat Uruguay and have made serene progress throughout the tournament so far but are still outsiders to win the competition.
The way the tournament has gone so far, there is no picking a winner. But what can be said is that, based on every team's apparent weaknesses, each side will believe they can win their quarter-final to reach the last four.
The teams expected to reach the semi-finals are Brazil, Argentina, the Netherlands and Germany, but, as Goal's Ben Hayward indicates, this is by no means a sure thing:
Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Netherlands expected semi-finalists but Belgium, USA, Colombia, France and Costa Rica have nothing to fear.— Ben Hayward (@bghayward) July 1, 2014
The Netherlands look to have the easiest route; they have been one of the better sides so far, and they face a Costa Rica side who have likely reached the end of the road after an unexpectedly brilliant tournament. The Dutch simply have more quality, and the Costa Ricans will be exhausted, having taken Greece to penalties.
Germany are tournament experts, but they face a strong French side in a key European clash that could go all the way to penalties. If that indeed turns out to be the case, Joachim Low's men hold the edge, as per ESPN's Paul Carr:
17 days until the 2014 World Cup. Germany has converted 17 of 18 shootout attempts at the World Cup.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) May 26, 2014
Argentina's clash with Belgium pairs two sides who have yet to reach their top form in the competition, with the South Americans relying heavily on Lionel Messi throughout the campaign. His presence will be absolutely key—obviously—and he should give them the edge and send them through to the last four.
However, Brazil look vulnerable. Colombia have been outstanding thus far—especially star man James Rodriguez—while the hosts have been suspect, and based on form, Los Cafeteros have the edge, as per ESPN's Miguel Delaney:
You'd fancy Colombia to take Brazil after today's games...— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) June 28, 2014
Brazil will be looking to their home advantage and an in-form Neymar, who is unlikely to be 100 per cent fit, to lift them to the level they need to beat Colombia.
But they don't look to have enough, and it is a genuine possibility that the hosts could be on their way out of their own World Cup on Friday in Fortaleza.