World Cup quarter-final clashes set to entertain?

Neymar and Brazil are still favourites to the land the trophy on home soil (©GettyImages)

With the World Cup in Brazil arguably the most entertaining in recent times the quarter-final ties promise to continue this theme as they have thrown up some mouth-watering games for us to enjoy. For the first time in history the eight group winners have progressed through to the second round.

Even though England have disappointed once again it is not stopping us from enjoying the tournament but now we are nearing the business end of the competition will sides tighten up and become more cautious as they get nearer to the ultimate prize. Round two games were more cautious but who can blame the nations as there is a lot to play for in the knock-out stage.

France v Germany

This is a real heavyweight European clash between two sides who are very adept at progressing in World Cups. France suffered huge disappointment four years ago in South Africa when they didn't make it through the group stages. However, this year there is a sense of unity about the squad under Didier Deschamps and they are playing some entertaining, free-flowing football. With Karim Benzema a real threat they have a real chance of progressing further.

Germany though will be a very tough opponent, as they always are. Germany are a side who nobody can rule out but they will need to improve on their last game where too many players were off-form. Their form has tailed off since their opening game thrashing of Portugal and Germany will need to overcome a lengthening injury list and an outbreak of flu in their squad. However, if anybody can overcome adversity then Germany can and with Thomas Muller striving to be the tournament's top scorer they are a major force still.

Brazil v Colombia

The hosts will hope their star player, and perhaps the tournaments most talked about player, will be at his best. Neymar has been suffering with injury but will be fit for this game. Brazil have not hit top form in the tournament yet but they are suffering because of the huge expectation on them as the home nation.

Colombia will not be an easy opponent though. They have their own star player in James Rodriguez and they have performed very well so far so will be no walkover for the hosts. If Colombia are to progress though they will need to capture their first ever victory over Brazil in their own country. With a very partisan home crowd supporting them nobody will be backing against the Brazilians but Colombia are a side full of confidence and I am sure they will believe they can upset the odds. It could well be a battle of the number 10s and whoever performs the best could be on the winning side.

Argentina v Belgium

Argentina have been very disappointing in the World Cup so far but they have progressed to the Quarter-Final nonetheless. The Belgium's will be very tough opponents as they are well organised and physical. Belgium are also full of talent and must not be taken lightly by Argentina who have thus far failed to ignite the World Cup and have become overly reliant on Lionel Messi to carry them through games. If they are to win the World Cup their other star names will need to start performing very soon.

Belgium have been many peoples dark horses prior to the tournament and they overcame a very tough USA team in the last round. Argentina may find they are very hard to break down but so often in this World Cup Lionel Messi has provided the extra spark when it was needed most. It will be no surprise if he continues that pattern against Belgium who will be all too aware of what he can do.

Netherlands v Costa Rica

The World Cup's surprise package Costa Rica have been a breath of fresh air and are now many peoples favourite second team in the competition. Their best player in the tournament so far has been their goalkeeper Keylor Navas but that doesn't give the team the credit they are due. They came through the so-called group of death as group winners after victories over Italy and Uruguay and have only conceded two goals in the tournament so far but that record will come under threat as the Dutch have a feared striking force. Costa Rica's strike force is itself impressive with Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell adding pace and a cutting edge to the side.

Netherlands will need to be wary but will be confident that they can progress. Arjen Robben will be the man to watch for the Dutch with his pace and trickery and hopefully his diving admission will not take the gloss off what has been a very good World Cup for him. Whilst the Costa Ricans may concentrate on stopping Robben they will do so at their peril as Robin van Persie will add a further goal threat for the Dutch. The Dutch will be huge favourites to progress but don't rule out Costa Rica providing another upset.

Quarter-final fixtures

Friday 5th July

France v Germany
Brazil v Colombia

Saturday 6th July

Argentina v Belgium
Holland v Costa Rica

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