The last eight: How and where the quarter-finals will be won or lost

Will Maradona have revenge over Germany? Can Robben rock the Brazilians? James Mariner previews four enticing games
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Netherlands v Brazil

Tomorrow, Port Elizabeth, ITV1

The Nelson Mandela Bay stadium welcomes a repeat of the 1998 semi-final, with both sides heading into the match unbeaten after winning their groups. The Dutch were boosted by the return to their starting line-up of the fit-again Arjen Robben against Slovakia in the last round and will look to prolong their 12-match unbeaten run in competitive games under Bert van Marwijk tomorrow. Both sides have overcome defensive problems, although the skills on show may be hindered by the pitch, which has cut up badly following rain and six games in a fortnight.

Key clash: Robben v Bastos

Lethal when cutting in onto his left, Robben impressed on his first start of the finals on Monday but will come up against a left-back enjoying a fine tournament. Michel Bastos kept Cristiano Ronaldo quiet last week and his success with Robben will have a key impact on the result.

Netherlands

Odds on making semis: 7-2.

Top scorer: Wesley Sneijder 2.

Suspended/injured: Seven players are a booking from missing the semi-final.

How they got here: Group stage: beat Denmark 2-0, beat Japan 1-0, beat Cameroon 2-1. Second round: beat Slovakia 2-1.

Brazil

Odds on making semis: 6-5 on.

Top scorer: Luis Fabiano 3.

Injured: Elano (ankle).

Suspended: Ramires (one match).

How they got here: Group stage: beat North Korea 2-1, beat Ivory Coast 3-1, drew with Portugal 0-0. Second round: beat Chile 3-0.

Paraguay v Spain

Saturday, Johannesburg, ITV1

European champions Spain bounced back in style from their opening-game defeat to Switzerland to be seen as serious contenders to win a first World Cup, but come up against Gerardo Martino's side who have conceded just one goal so far in the finals. Spain's David Villa has lived up to his pre-tournament billing, sharing leadership of the scoring charts with four goals after his strike against Portugal on Tuesday, and presents the main threat to Paraguay, who are already enjoying their best ever World Cup showing.

Key clash: Alcaraz v Villa

In tying up a £35m move for Villa before the finals, Barcelona have pulled off the transfer of the summer. The Wigan defender Antolin Alcaraz, inexperienced at this level, will have his hands full against the Euro 2008 top scorer.

Paraguay

Odds on making semis: 7-1.

Top scorer: Antolin Alcaraz, Cristian Riveros, Enrique Vera 1.

Suspended: None. injured: None.

How they got here: Group stage: drew with Italy 1-1, beat Slovakia 2-0, drew with New Zealand 0-0. Second round: beat Japan on pens (0-0).

Spain

Odds on making semis: 9-4 on.

Top scorer: David Villa 4.

Suspended: None. injured: None.

How they got here: Group stage: lost 1-0 to Switzerland, beat Honduras 2-0, beat Chile 2-1. Second round: beat Portugal 1-0.

Argentina v Germany

Saturday, Cape Town, BBC1

Diego Maradona's attempt to become only the third person to win the World Cup as both a player and manager continues as Argentina seek revenge for their penalty shoot-out loss at the same stage four years ago. The manager was also part of the 1990 Argentina side that lost to West Germany in the final. Both teams have impressed more going forward than in defence in South Africa, scoring 19 goals between them. Lionel Messi has shone but has yet to find the net and will relish facing Germany's rather ponderous defence.

Key clash: Mascherano v Ozil

The smart passing and space-finding ability of Mesut Ozil have lit up the tournament and Javier Mascherano will have to be at his belligerent best to quell the German playmaker. Maradona will look to the Liverpool player to hassle and harry Ozil out of the game.

Argentina

Odds on making semis: 6-5.

Top scorer: Gonzalo Higuain 4.

Suspended: None.

injured: None.

How they got here: Group stage: beat Nigeria 1-0, beat South Korea 4-1, beat Greece 2-0. Second round: beat Mexico 3-1.

Germany

Odds on making semis: 12-5.

Top scorer: Thomas Müller 3

Suspended: None. injured: Cacau (stomach), Podolski (muscle).

How they got here: Group stage: beat Australia 1-0, lost to Serbia 1-0, beat Ghana 1-0. Second round: beat England 4-1.

Uruguay v Ghana

Tomorrow, Johannesburg, ITV1

Milovan Rajevac's Ghana side carry the hopes of a continent as they seek to become the first African side to reach the last four of a World Cup. Although they struggled to impress at times against South Korea in last weekend's second round match, Uruguay will also fancy their chances of making the last four for the first time in 40 years. Striker Luis Suarez has continued his fine form from his 49-goal season with Ajax in Holland and may give the South American side the edge against a willing but at times wasteful Ghanian side.

Key clash: Lugano v Gyan

Playing in his second World Cup, Asamoah Gyan has relished filling the lone-striker role for the Black Stars, scoring three of their four goals. The Uruguay captain Diego Lugano has been a key factor in his side's fine defensive showing and will look to keep Gyan quiet.

Uruguay

Odds on making semis: Evens.

Top scorer: Luis Suarez 3.

Suspended: None. Injured: Diego Godin (thigh), Diego Forlan (toe).

How they got here: Group stages: drew with France 0-0, beat South Africa 3-0, beat Mexico 1-0. Second round: beat South Korea 2-1.

Ghana

Odds on making semis: 16-5.

Top scorer: Asamoah Gyan 3.

Suspended: Andre Ayew, Jonathan Mensah (one match). Injured: None.

How they got here: Group stages: beat Serbia 1-0, drew with Australia 1-1, lost to Germany 1-0. Second round: beat United States 2-1 (aet).

Comments