B/R Experts' World Cup Predictions: It's Neymar vs. James

Alex LivieFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2014

B/R Experts' World Cup Predictions: It's Neymar vs. James

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    Bleacher Report's experts were keen not to rest on the laurels of their efforts of last season, so they will go into battle for the whole of the World Cup.

    Each game will feature a score prediction, combined with a Man of the Match selection (based on FIFA's official decision).

    The predictions are in the following slides, and you will be able to chart their success—or lack thereof—for the rest of the tournament on our daily scoreboard.

    Post your own picks on Twitter and include @br_uk. Anyone who gets all scorelines and the Man of the Match awards correct will receive a Bleacher Report goody bag.

France vs. Germany

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    Alex Dimond: France 2-1 Germany

    Germany are perhaps the more experienced side, but they also have a few more selection issues due to injuries and health issues. According to head coach Joachim Loew, per The Guardian, "Seven players are slightly ill with flu symptoms." France perhaps have a touch more quality in key areas—particularly in midfield—and that might just be enough to see them through.

    Man of the Match: Paul Pogba

    This could be the game where the young Juventus midfielder formally establishes himself as one of the best in his position in the world. He can run riot against a battle-weary German midfield.

    Karl Matchett: France 2-1 Germany

    France have got the best attack left in the World Cup by way of form so far, movement and consistency. They have a powerful midfield, a solid defence and a very good sweeper-keeper, bettered only by the man he will be playing opposite. Germany have power, technique and a front four which can all rotate and interchange, but not quite as solid a defence as France have shown. Mats Hummels' return could help in that regard, but either way this will be a terrifically tight battle and could go to extra time.

    Man of the Match: Antoine Griezmann

    Griezmann to trouble the German back line with his running in off the flank, behind the opposition defence, and his ability to get on the end of through balls from the opposite side of the pitch.

    Michael Cummings: France 2-1 Germany

    I think Germany are ripe for an upset—that is, if that's what a France win would be considered. Die Mannschaft only conceded once in 120 minutes against Algeria, but it could have been much more against a better side. France are a finer side with more capable attackers. It's never wise to write off the Germans at any World Cup, but this tournament has taught us to expect the unexpected.

    Man of the Match: Karim Benzema

    Moving Benz back to the middle is the best bet for Didier Deschamps. If he does it, look for France to have opportunities to score against Germany's vulnerable back four.

    Sam Tighe: France 2-0 Germany

    Germany have limped into the quarter-finals, whereas France have breezed through. The comfort levels at which Les Bleus are playing are remarkable, and I expect that to win over in a cagey contest.

    Man of the Match: Karim Benzema

    Benzema's going to get a lot of space to work in; Philipp Lahm is underperforming at holding midfield, and that defensive line looks awful.

    Will Tidey: France 2-1 Germany

    Germany have been getting it done, as usual, but they are slow and vulnerable at the back. France, meanwhile, are fast and clinical on the break. I think the French will edge it.

    Man of the Match: Paul Pogba

    I like Pogba to star again for Les Bleus. He brings a physical dynamism I'm not sure Germany can contain.

Brazil vs. Colombia

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    Alex Dimond: Brazil 1-2 Colombia

    Neither of these sides are great defensively, while Colombia have been a more fluent attacking unit this tournament but will not have the home backing Brazil will. Still, if James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado live up to their billing, Jose Pekerman's side may well succeed where Chile narrowly failed.

    Man of the Match: Juan Cuadrado

    Rodriguez has been the poster boy for Los Cafeteros, but Cuadrado could make a bigger impact in this game, against full-backs who are somewhat suspect defensively.

    Karl Matchett: Brazil 1-1 Colombia (Colombia win on penalties)

    This match could be a mirror image of the Chile-Brazil game, with the hosts’ South American rivals eager to press hard and hit on the break with pace and numbers. Brazil’s defence will have to be at their best to stop the fast-paced attacks of Colombia. The hope must be that sooner or later, the attacking players click into gear. If not, Brazil could easily see their luck run out at this stage.

    Man of the Match: Juan Cuadrado

    Cuadrado to be the big threat on the counter, running in behind Marcelo and Co. while providing low crosses to attack.

    Michael Cummings: Brazil 1-1 Colombia (Brazil win on penalties)

    Based on form, Colombia should win this game, and in all honesty, it feels like most neutrals have fallen head over heels for James Rodriguez and Co. It wouldn't surprise me if Los Cafeteros pull off the win, but Brazil still have the huge advantage (or is it a curse?) of playing on home soil.

    Man of the Match: Julio Cesar

    Stopping James will be tough, and Julio Cesar will likely need to be at his best. He was the hero in the penalty shootout against Chile, and he could be set for a repeat performance in the quarters.

    Sam Tighe: Brazil 1-2 Colombia

    Brazil's ride in the tournament ends here, as Colombia have too much at both ends of the pitch. Unless Fred finally comes alive in dramatic fashion, the Selecao bow out.

    Man of the Match: James Rodriguez

    Why pick anyone else? With five goals in four games he's flying. I'm just dreading the moment the World Cup ends and we start talking about his next club, not his great showings.

    Will Tidey: Brazil 3-1 Colombia

    Colombia have been the better side thus far, by a distance, but Brazil come into this one after a real scare against Chile. Luiz Felipe Scolari will send them out to be bold and put Colombia away early.

    Man of the Match: Neymar

    Who else? Neymar, of course, who will score at least once and win the battle of the No. 10s with James Rodriguez.

Updated Standings

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    B/R Expert Picks

    (One point for correct result, three points for correct scoreline, two points for correct Man of the Match.)

    Sam Tighe 88
    Michael Cummings78
    Will Tidey 72
    Karl Matchett 66
    Alex Dimond 61