By RYAN TOLMICH
If host nation Brazil are to advance to the World Cup semifinals, they’re going to have to go through one of this tournament’s biggest stars.
After narrowly escaping Chile via penalty shootout, Brazil now looks towards Colombia and star midfielder James Rodriguez. The 22-year-old Rodriguez will give Brazil all they can handle, as the Colombian star leads the tournament’s Golden Boot race with five goals and two assists in just 310 minutes, 50 minutes less than anyone in the top six.
Rodriguez’s impact has never been more evident than in Colombia’s 2-0 win over Uruguay on June 28, as the midfielder scored both goals. Rodriguez’s first finish was a goal-of-the-tournament contender, as Rodriguez’s stunning volley will be featured on highlight reels and YouTube clips for the rest of his career. Meanwhile, Rodriguez’s second was of the more team-oriented variety, showing exactly how dangerous Colombia can be when the team works as a unit.
Meanwhile, Brazil enter Friday’s contest coming off a grueling penalty shootout victory over Chile, as the host nation rode goalkeeper Julio Cesar to survival and advancement. The Brazilians have been hot and cold throughout the tournament, looking strong against Croatia and Cameroon, while struggling against Chile and Mexico.Brazil were a goalpost away from being eliminated by Chile, but a victory of Colombia would be more than enough to erase any memories of struggles.
Here is a look at the rest of Friday’s World Cup action:
FRANCE vs. GERMANY
Friday’s second quarterfinal game will also feature it’s share of young stars, but it’s the long-standing history between the two sides that have supporters talking.
Friday’s clash between France and Germany is one filled with bad blood, as the two European powers have a history dating back to the 1982 World Cup when West Germany’s Harald “Toni” Schumacher took out France’s Patrick Battiston in one of the sport’s most vicious collisions.
In more modern times, after a 2010 World Cup tournament filled with shame, embarrassment and insubordination, France have done wonders to repair their damaged reputation with their performance at this summer’s tournament. The French field a side filled with youth, as Les Bleus 22-man roster features only three players in their thirties. However, France enter Friday’s clash coming off a tough Round of 16 victory over Nigeria, which appeared to be anybody’s game until a 91st minute Nigeria own goal sealed France’s advancement.
For their part, France’s quarterfinal opposition, Germany, struggles as well, with Die Mannschaft needing extra time to pick up a razor-thin victory over heavy underdogs Algeria. Late goals from Andre Schurrle and Mesut Ozil proved to be enough for Germany, but the Germans will need to put forth a better effort if they hope to advance to the World Cup semifinals for the third straight tournament.
What do you think of the first two quarterfinal matchups? Will Brazil advance on home soil, or will Colombia continue their hot streak? Will Germany advance from the quarterfinals for a third straight tournament, or will the French continue their resurgence?
Share your thoughts below.