In the pressure cooker atmosphere of the knock-out phases, even the most negligible of mistakes can decide the fate of a nation . Thus it is up to the stars of the World Cup
to prove if they can thrive in the pressure and wilt under the spotlight. As far as the World Cup quarter-finals are concerned, only the best of the best make it that far and Brazil v Colombia encounter is a perfect example of just that.
The world will have a first taste the momentous quarter-final showdown on July 4 when Latin American superpowers Colombia and Brazil clash in the first World Cup quarter final match in the scorching heat of Fortaleza .
As South American rivalry shifts to the world stage, fans are bracing themselves for the upcoming blockbuster fixture that promises to be a cracker of a tie.
With the World Cup approaching its decisive moments, GiveMeSport looks at the stars to watch and the tactical formations that could shape this crucial battle for a place in the semis.
After squeezing past Chile the Round of 16 on penalties, host nations Brazil face their continental rivals Colombia in a bid to qualify for the semi-finals. so far, Brazil have not been able to showcase the flawless form that won them the Confederation Cup last year.
Despite some of football's biggest names carrying the weight of the nation, the Brazilian team looks somewhat unbalanced and lacking composure in front of goal. If the 120 minutes of action play against Chile were to be judged, there was no doubt that they deserved to qualify, but lady luck chose to favour the hosts on the decisive penalties.
The Selecao, far too reliant on Neymar, will need the other stars such as Hulk to step up and deliver on the big stage if they are to salvage their hopes of qualifying for the semi finals.
History shows that the Brazil squads that have won the previous editions of the World Cup could call upon centre-forwards like Pele, Romario, Ronaldo and Rivaldo. Fred, Brazil's main strike option, is well short of that standard.
This is a simple demonstration of Brazil's lacking quality; but the overwhelming home support and a bit of luck makes them a serious contender for the title.
On the other hand, Colombia will look to continue their inspired form into the quarter-finals, led by their rising star James Rodriguez.
With five goals to his name already and a strong contender for the golden boot, the AS Monaco star looks more than capable of carrying his nation into the semis. Juan Guillermo Cuadrado and Jackson Martínez will strengthen the midfield and act as the focal point of an increasingly dominant Colombian squad.
After bagging four wins out of their four matches at the World Cup so far, Colombia are full of confidence going into this game. They demolished a Suarez-less Uruguay in fine fashion with their hero James Rodriguez bagging a brace that established him as the tournament's stand-out performer.
Both teams will most likely employ a 4-2-3-1 formation. While Brazil will boast the privilege of having some of most the renowned names in their defensive lines, Colombia's defense, built of aspiration and unrelenting work rate, is lacking a little bit of quality.
Colombia's Mario Yepes will partner Zapata at centre-back while Ospina will be their first choice 'keeper. Brazil, on the other hand will have the unmatched defensive talents of Thiago Silva and David Luiz while their last-16 hero Julio Cesar will be back between the posts.
Sanchez and Aguilar will most likely be operating at the heart of the Colombian midfield while Fiorentina's Juan Cuadrado and Jackson Martinez will storm the wings with their blistering pace and fancy skills.
Their star striker James Rodriguez may be offered a more offensive role in the light of his previous exploits and Teofilo Gutierrez will likely be playing a central striking position completes the balanced yet challenging Colombian line-up.
Brazil will have more or less the same formation as it has had on previous occasion. With Fred occupying the centre forward spot supported by Neymar and Hulk on either wings, Paulinho and Fernandinho will take on the defensive midfielder duties with Luiz Gustavo out.
However the only possible change that may be introduced is Willian playing in place of Oscar in the heart of Brazil's midfield. Also the option of substituting Fernandinho in place of Ramires is a tempting choice for Scolari.
Players to watch
With the old names starting to rust over time, a new fresh generation of youngsters are emerging as a better choice. Interestingly but not a surprise at all, the talisman of both sides are aged just 22 and already set to become national heroes.
All the eyes will undoubtedly rest upon Brazil's 22-year old star Neymar who now carries the hopes of his nation on his slender shoulders. With four goals to his name, the Samba star now approaches the decisive moments of the World Cup with expectations running high. The Barcelona star's flawless form on the national stage is likely to continue but relying too much on the skinny forward is turning out to be a daunting problem for Brazil especially when he fails to deliver.
Colombia's pride and arguably the best player of the tournament so far, James Rodriguez, will also be under the spotlight of world attention. The AS Monaco superstar has startled the world on the international stage after scoring what could possibly earn its place in history as the goal of the tournament. Despite his tender age the Colombian striker has built his reputation for scoring stunners and don't be surprised if you see one on Friday when the two nations clash.
It is beyond doubt that both stars will be heavily marked and as always, fouled by the opposition defence, and as the tournament progresses it will only get difficult for these stars to shine under the pressure.
Therefore, for either side to salvage their hopes of booking a place in the semis, the other stars of their squad must step up and deliver when their team needs it the most.
Brazil, with the support of the home crowd behind their backs may be the favourites to triumph on this occasion, but a dip in form from the host nation makes this an open contest, turning the World Cup into an even more exciting tournament.
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