World Cup 2014 Predictions: Projecting Final Scores for Day 23 Fixtures

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World Cup 2014 Predictions: Projecting Final Scores for Day 23 Fixtures
Dolores Ochoa/Associated Press

France face Germany and Brazil take on Colombia in the first quarter-finals on Day 23 of the 2014 World Cup.

The line-up boasts nine World Cup triumphs between them, with only Colombia having failed to win football's ultimate prize.

The first clash is an all-European affair. France and Germany had to dig deep in the last 16, but they will be hoping to rediscover the form that brought big wins in the group stage, when Les Bleus thrashed Switzerland 5-2 and Joachim Low's Germany crushed Portugal 4-0.

Friday's late match is an all-South American clash. Hosts Brazil, who needed penalties to get past Chile in the last 16, take on an unbeaten Colombian team that has cruised into the last eight.

Read on for score predictions for another day of drama in Brazil.

 

France vs. Germany

Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press

The most famous clash between these two sides came in the semi-finals of the 1982 World Cup when German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher clattered into French defender Patrick Battiston, breaking two teeth, cracking three ribs and damaging his back, per The Telegraph.

It's unlikely anything similar will occur on Friday at the Estadio Maracana in Rio de Janeiro as Manuel Neuer is revered as one of the best keepers in the game because of his quality between the posts, not his brutality.

And besides, it all seems very amicable ahead of the match, with plenty of ties between former and current club-mates in both national teams.

That will change at kick-off, though. The Germans have reached the semi-finals at the last four World Cups and are favourites to do so again.

But it is not a foregone conclusion. France coach Didier Deschamps has cut out the dark heart of the team that went on strike at the 2010 World Cup and has a youthful side playing as a cohesive unit. In Karim Benzema, who has scored three goals and provided two assists thus far, they also have one of the best strikers.

Providing the ammunition in midfield will be Paul Pogba, who scored the vital opening goal against Nigeria in Les Bleus' last-16 clash and is beginning to show why he is rated as one of the top midfield talents in Europe, even at just 21 years old.

Dominic Fifield of The Guardian puts that into perspective:

At Pogba’s age, Michel Platini was still playing for Nancy with a handful of caps to his name. Zidane was in his first full season at Bordeaux and an Under-21 international under Raymond Domenech. Franck Ribéry was playing for Brest in the French lower leagues.

And there's the rub for the French. While Pogba is full of potential, along with midfield colleagues Blaise Matuidi and Yohan Cabaye, the German midfield is full of medal winners. Champions League medal winners to be precise.

Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger have all won European football's showpiece event in the last two seasons, and if coach Low persists with Philipp Lahm in midfield rather than revert him to full-back to help balance his defence, the 30-year-old has won it too.

Upfront they have their own deadly striker in Thomas Mueller, who has outscored Benzema, with four goals, and has a history of finding the net in the World Cuphe won the golden boot in 2010, with five goals and three assists.

The Germans just seem to have that added edge all over the pitch and that could well make the difference in a close match. Low's side may have laboured past Algeria in the last 16, needing extra time, but they went through and they have the knack of doing so.

Prediction: Germany 2-0 France

 

Brazil vs. Colombia

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

This game could come down to a straight shootout between two golden boys of the World Cup: Brazil's Neymar and Colombia's James Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is winning the head-to-head battle at the moment, having scored five goals to Neymar's four. That's not to say Neymar has not been outstanding; he has needed to be.

The hosts have struggled to really impose themselves thus far and the Barcelona forward has often carried the sole attacking threat, with the likes of Oscar, Fred and Jo failing to thrive amid the pressure of a World Cup on home soil.

But while Neymar has lived up to expectations, Rodriguez has surpassed them. The Monaco winger was only drafted into a central position following an injury to Radamel FalcaoColombia's leading goalscorer in qualifyingand he is reveling in a role that nobody had any expectations for.

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Since switching positions, not only has he outscored Neymar, but the 22-year-old has also provided two assists for his team-matessomething his Brazilian counterpart is yet to do.  

Yet for all his exploits, Rodriguez is not as important to Colombia as Neymar is to Brazil. The forward's contribution only accounts to 45 percent of the team's attacking output, while Neymar is up at 50 percent, per WhoScored.com.

Jackson Martinez has chipped in with two goals and sits 21 places above Brazil's next-best-ranked player in the goalscoring charts, David Luiz, per WhoScored.com. Meanwhile Colombia's Juan Guillermo Cuadrado leads the tournament in assists, with four. 

As such, Colombia have the edge at both individual and team level and it won't be too much of a shock if they prove too strong for Luiz Scolari's Brazil.

Prediction: Colombia 2-1 Brazil

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