France’s Mamadou Sakho remains Liverpool’s only player in the 2014 World Cup. His nations faces Germany in the first quarter-final on Friday before the rest of the big teams are in action – Brazil, Argentina and the Netherlands. Here is a look at how we think Sakho and co will fare.
France vs Germany
Mamadou Sakho and Raphaël Varane have formed a solid partnership at the back for France which has kept three clean sheets in four matches with only two consolation goals from Switzerland in their second group game beating Hugo Lloris.
Germany have a wealth of attacking talent with Thomas Müller top scoring for Joachim Löw’s side. Arsenal fans were probably shocked to see Mesut Özil finding the energy in the heat of Brazil to score in the 119th minute in the last round too. Mario Götze and André Schürrle have also looked lively in attack.
France, with Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi in midfield will need to stop the support for Müller down the centre and rely on their full-backs, Mathieu Debuchy and Patrice Evra to prevent crosses coming in from the wings. If Philipp Lahm is switched back to right-back, Evra will need to remain disciplined and supported by his left winger.
Expect Karim Benzema to be moved into the central striker role with Olivier Giroud dropping to the bench so that Didier Deschamps can give his left-back some protection.
Germany’s defence has looked vulnerable and were helped by sweeper keeper Manuel Neuer against Algeria to prevent any serious attempts on his goal.
France need a bit of pace in their attack and they can cause this German defence some problems. Keeping Jérôme Boateng at centre-back and the pacey Shkodran Mustafi at right-back may be a sensible move by Löw for this match.
The French will need their A-game to see off Germany but with their two centre-backs playing well and a solid midfield unit they have a good chance of upsetting the second favourites in this competition.
France to eliminate Germany is 2.20
In the other three quarter-finals, Brazil versus Colombia is the second match on Friday. The hosts have looked suspect at the back and should be tested by this quick Colombian attacking unit that have scored 11 goals in reaching the quarter-finals.
If the underdogs can keep Neymar quiet they have a good shot at causing an upset and with the likes of James Rodríguez, Juan Cuadrado and Jackson Martínez going forward it’s a real possibility.
Colombia to eliminate Brazil is 2.80
Argentina have not looked so impressive in reaching the quarter-finals but have got the job done on each occasion. All thanks to Lionel Messi.
If Belgium can keep the Barcelona star quiet, albeit a big if, they have a chance of causing an upset themselves.
Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku on the attack and counter-attack pose a threat for this Argentina defence, that although have kept two clean sheets in four matches, have not looked all that stable.
Belgium to eliminate Argentina is 2.50
The one game we don’t think will be an upset is the team who have surprised us the most in this tournament – Costa Rica. The Netherlands will surely end the Central American side’s dreams in the quarter-finals.
Louis van Gaal’s side have scored the most goals (12) in reaching the quarter-finals, whilst Costa Rica have scored the least (5). Good luck to them keeping both Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie quiet. And even then, they have Wesley Sneijder and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar available – both who scored the goals in the last round.
Netherlands to beat Costa Rica is 1.50
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