It has been one of the most memorable World Cups in living memory, but which nation will etch its name into the history books as champions?
July 4 and July 5 sees the remaining eight teams battle it out in the quarter-finals, starting on Friday with a clash between European heavyweights France and Germany, immediately followed by a classic all-South American encounter between Brazil and Colombia.
Saturday then sees the round completed as Argentina face a dangerous Belgium side and the Netherlands play Costa Rica.
Here are the latest odds for all four matches, via OddsShark.com, as well as some predictions for Friday's two games:
|World Cup Quarter-Finals Betting Odds|
|Match||Odds Home Win||Odds Away Win||Odds Draw||Predicted Score|
|France v Germany||54-25||37-25||9-4||2-2 (France win on pens)|
|Brazil v Colombia||5-6||193-50||64-25||1-2|
|Argentina v Belgium||29-25||69-25||23-10||3-1|
|Netherlands v Costa Rica||10-19||133-20||333-100||2-1|
Mario Gotze to Find the Net
In a game between two sides that know each other so well, there is always the chance of a bore draw in the knockouts of a major international tournament.
But France vs. Germany has so much attacking talent on show, and with suspect defences present, surely the watching public will see goals.
Mario Gotze is yet to fully explode on the World Cup stage for Germany, but Friday will offer him the opportunity to further his reputation.
The attacker is supremely talented and has shown with Bayern Munich why he is so very highly rated. Last year Gotze hit an impressive 13 goals and provided nine assists in 38 league and European appearances for his club, per WhoScored.com, as Bayern ran away with the Bundesliga title.
These were even greater figures when you consider that 12 of Gotze's appearances came from the substitutes' bench.
The match against France will see Gotze used in an advanced attacking role playing off Thomas Muller, in a 4-3-3.
The expectation is for Muller to deliver, but Gotze can use this fact as a foil and play it to his advantage.
Gotze is as long as 9-1 to score the first goal on Friday, per Oddschecker.com, and this bet looks a tempting prospect for gamblers.
When you consider that Muller is floating in and around the 5-1 mark, Gotze's odds look good.
The quarter-finals could have Gotze's signature all over them if Germany play to their best and progress. But just as his team's best form of defence is attack, the French also have the striking talent to counter Germany's own weaknesses at the back.
France and Germany Draw in 90 Minutes
As mentioned above about Gotze, France also have weapons in their armoury to hurt the Germans.
Karim Benzema has led the line beautifully for his country during the tournament, and it now feels as if he has truly arrived as a top international after years of threatening to do so.
When studying the odds in relation to a scoring draw, taking into account the competition's thirst for drama, a 2-2 draw between the sides looks a fair and possible outcome in 90 minutes.
Oddschecker.com are currently offering huge figures of 19-1 on this eventuality, and that is worth a pound of anyone's money.
The attackers could reign supreme with both defences lacking the depth to keep the game goalless.
Germany's centre-back pair of Per Mertesacker and Mats Hummels are a better combination than France's Raphael Varane and Mamadou Sakho, and with the talented Eliaquim Mangala on the bench, you would have expected to have seen him feature for Les Bleus before now.
Indeed, Sakho and Mertesacker are the weak links, and it is possible they will be exposed on Friday evening.
Goals look likely, but an outright win does not. It is the kind of game that has a draw written all over it, forcing extra-time and penalties.
James Rodriguez To Slay Brazil
Form is a strange thing at international tournaments―it sometimes means very little in terms of results, game to game.
But James Rodriguez has arrived on the world stage and seems set to break Brazilian hearts. John Cross of the Mirror agrees with this sentiment, tweeting:
James is currently the tournament's top scorer after a series of impressive group stage performances. Now he faces a Brazilian defence that has more than one mistake in them―something Rodriguez can surely exploit.
Friday could well be Brazil's swansong in the competition as they face a team who are superior in almost every department.
James will not think twice of being the team to slay Brazil, sending them on their summer holidays sooner than they would have liked.
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