Neymar and James Rodriguez—two of the stars of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil—meet on Day 23 when the hosts face Colombia in Fortaleza for their quarter-final match-up.
But they are not the only stars on show on Friday, the likes of Thomas Muller and Karim Benzema clash for Germany's quarter-final with France on what should be a day of high-quality action.
Indeed, as the World Cup trundles on, the quality ramps up as weaker teams are eliminated, and nowhere is that better illustrated than in the two mouth-watering matches on Day 23.
Read on for live streaming information, previews and predictions for both of Friday's games.
|Time (BST/ET)||Fixture||TV Info||Live Stream||Prediction|
|5 p.m./noon||France vs. Germany||BBC1/ESPN2||BBC iPlayer/ESPN Player||1-1 (Germany on pens)|
|9 p.m./4 p.m.||Brazil vs. Colombia||ITV/ESPN||ITV Player/ESPN Player||1-2|
Brazil vs. Colombia
A huge boost for Brazil ahead of the match in Fortaleza is the fact that Neymar will indeed be fit to face Colombia having recovered from a thigh injury he picked up against Chile in the last 16, per the Guardian:
While this is most certainly a positive for the Selecao, the relief over his fitness does betray how over-reliant this Brazil side is on their 22-year-old talisman. He has scored four goals in the tournament so far and without him, the hosts would probably already be out.
Despite his declaration of fitness, he is unlikely to be at 100 percent, and after four inconsistent matches so far in the tournament, it is time for the rest of Brazil's players to step up.
Will Colombia beat Brazil?
One key aspect that needs improvement is the defence. Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado and Jackson Martinez to name but three present Brazil's back line with their toughest challenge yet.
Colombia's width could cause problems for full-backs Dani Alves and Marcelo, who—while good going forward—are weak defensively.
Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari has hinted at a change in style in that department, per Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail:
We’re being too nice, too cordial with our opponents. We can’t be laid back every day. It’s time for a change - I can’t hold it in any more. It’s time we defended a little differently, to go back to my style, which is more aggressive.
Colombia have uniquely shown great consistency in this tournament so far and pose a real threat to Brazil's survival. The hosts have to improve on their performance against Chile or they will go no further in the competition.
Germany vs. France
Thus far in the competition, there is little to choose between these two sides, both having been magnificent on occasion, but suspect at other times.
Germany's 4-0 thrashing of Portugal and France's 5-2 win over Switzerland represent two of the best attacking displays of the 2014 World Cup. If both sides play to that level in Rio de Janeiro, it should be some game.
However, both sides have also displayed defensive weaknesses in the tournament so far, which they will look to put right in the quarter-finals.
Benzema will cause Germany all kinds of trouble, so long as he is played through the middle. He was ineffective starting on the left against Nigeria in the last 16 but his switch to a central role changed the game, per the Sun-Herald's Craig Foster:
Deschamps' decision to take Giroud off won the game. Allowed Benzema freedom, came into game, + Griezmann very good #SBSWorldCup— Craig Foster (@Craig_Foster) June 30, 2014
Equally, Muller is Germany's most prolific goalscoring outlet—he has four goals and two assists so far in the tournament—and he will be key to German prospects, per ESPN's Dermot Corrigan:
Germany almost as reliant on Muller as Argentina on Messi or Brazil on Neymar.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) June 30, 2014
With two very evenly matched sides, the prospect of penalties looms large, and in that case, the Germans have the edge on not just France, but every international side.