The FIFA World Cup 2014 has moved into the quarter-final stage, pitting the eight best teams in the tournament against one another as the ultimate prize—world domination—looms ever-closer.
Here we take a look at the second tie on offer: Brazil vs. Colombia.
Brazil haven't really come together as a side on the pitch yet, instead relying on the unity Luiz Felipe Scolari has created in the group.
"He is a friend, he is like a dad," Thiago Silva told the Associated Press (h/t The Washington Post). “You can always talk to him if you are going through a difficult time. He is the type of coach who will do anything to try to make you feel better, no matter what."
It saw them past Chile—just—but they'll need a lot more on the field if they're to get past a formidable Colombia side. With Marcelo an injury concern and Luiz Gustavo suspended, though, "Felipao" is going to have to pull a rabbit out of the hat.
Paulinho is an option to come back into the side, as is David Luiz moving into midfield and Henrique/Dante dropping into the central defensive line.
Maxwell will be on red-alert as a stand-in for left-back.
Colombia have been one of this tournament's many bright spots, excelling on the counter and through transitional play.
Predictably Juan Cuadrado and James Rodriguez have been excellent, but some surprise efforts in other areas of the squad—namely Carlos Sanchez (DM), Pablo Armero (LB) and Mario Yepes (CB)—have had a major hand in their progress so far.
Jose Pekerman has no injuries and no suspensions, meaning any changes he makes ahead of the game will be purely tactical.
He's been somewhat gung-ho so far, picking out opposition weaknesses and punishing them instead of carefully managing the opposition, and that could create an exceptionally open battle against Neymar and Co.
2 Tactical Clashes
1. What to do With James Rodriguez?
How Brazil defend against James Rodriguez, and how well they do it, will likely shape the outcome of this game.
Losing Gustavo, the Selecao's primary defensive midfielder and the strongest in his position so far during this World Cup, is a big blow, but you can't pin one guy on James and hope he stops him.
Colombia play best on the counter, through transitions, and they'll let Brazil have the ball in order to create more space for themselves to work. James then pops up anywhere there's room to play, so instead of committing men on him, you work on either cutting out his options...or cutting off his supply.
Scolari has moved Neymar inside a few times this tournament because he won't track opposing wide men as well as Oscar. It could well be worth playing Oscar as a suffoco here, stopping Sanchez and Abel Aguilar from feeding James.
Chile managed it but can their level of intensity be replicated?
2. Quickly, Behind Pablo Armero!
Brazil will have watched the tape of Colombia and realised there is no easy way to attack them; no obvious method to goals.
Despite their attacking intent, Colombia are studious in their defensive ethic and try to leave six behind the ball at all times. Sanchez and Aguilar rarely join attacks and both full-backs know exactly what's required of them.
The level of protection offered to Cristian Zapata and Yepes is remarkable, but there is a way to get at them: Fill the space behind Armero when he goes forward from left-back and move the ball quickly into that area.
If you're quick enough you can get Yepes one vs. one in space and that's a disaster for los Cafeteros. Neymar from the right would not be a bad shout at all.
Bleacher Report will do a tactical preview and review of every single 2014 FIFA World Cup game. Stay tuned to this link and check it every day for more.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!