Brazil vs Colombia World Cup 2014 preview: The key men for each team in the quarter-final
Who will Brazil and Colombia look to as they fight for a place in the final four?
Thursday 03 July 2014
The hosts and dark horses Colombia go head-to-head in Fortaleza on Friday, as they battle for a place in the final four of the World Cup.
We look at the three key men Luiz Felipe Scolari and Jose Pekerman will rely on in the quarter-final and what each must do to ensure it is their team in the semi.
Read more: How Scolari is helping his team cope
Match preview: Brazil vs Colombia
Want to know Brazil's secrets?
Captain fantastic for the host-nation. The 29-year-old is a rock at the back for an otherwise shaky Brazilian defence. While David Luiz and Dani Alves have been prone to jump ship when it comes to defensive duties, the PSG skipper is able to fully compensate for his team-mates’ deficiencies, oozing class and composure all the while. Thiago Silva has been able to calm the titanic vessel that is Brazilian expectation so far, but with the sea getting rougher and the boat having more holes than previously thought, Brazil are depending more and more on their captain for safe passage.
The speedy left back will have his work cut out as he takes on Juan Caudrado, the World Cup’s leading assist maker. After accidentally scoring the opening goal of the tournament when he turned Ivica Olic’s cross into his own net, Marcelo has raised his game with the side only conceding two goals since that mishap. He has also been potent going forward with his purposeful overlapping runs providing him with one assist in the competition so far.
The tricky striker has shown the likes of Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo how to perform with the expectation of a nation on his shoulders. When things didn’t go according to the script in the opening game against Croatia, up stepped Neymar with a crucial double to send the whole of Brazil to away happy. Despite failing to break Mexico down he again dragged Brazil from trouble against Cameroon by scoring the goal that restored their lead, providing the cure for any nerves. It’s a lot to ask game after game for a 22-year old, but by the looks of it, he thrives on the pressure. Neymar remains Brazil's biggest threat
At 38 years of age Mario Yepes is the oldest outfield player in the World Cup and will retire when the competition draws to a close. You wouldn’t know it though, as the classy centre-back has kept two clean sheets in his three appearances this summer to silence early critics of Colombia’s defence. He has provided much needed experience to a young Colombian side and with him as the defensive anchor, players such as Juan Cuadrado and James Rodriguez have been able to fly.
Read more: Who will be king? Neymar or Rodriguez
5 reasons Brazil will win
5 reasons why Colombia will win
Cuadrado has created more goals than any other player at the World Cup so far with an impressive four assists to his name. The Fiorentina winger also scored a crucial goal against Japan to bring his side level in a game Colombia went on to win 4-1. The 26-year-old’s string of notable performances has alerted the likes of Manchester United and Barcelona to his availability, but instead of thinking about joining Neymar, Dani Alves and co. at the Nou Camp he currently has his heat set on destroying them in their own back-yard. Juan Cuadrado has an impressive four assits to his name
The player of the tournament so far now faces his nearest contender. Rodriguez and Neymar will go head to head for glory in this all-South American clash. While the headlines were orbiting around the Brazilian number ten before the tournament began, James has since snatched them away, taking the competition to a whole other level in the process. With an unheralded five goals and two assists in four games, including a breath-taking volley which brushed aside Uruguay, Rodriguez has stolen the limelight from his opposite number. As previously mentioned, Neymar works best when he is the centre of attention, so the results of this encounter could be very interesting indeed.
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