Europe & South America Pick
First World Cup Semifinalists
France and Germany, former champions, open the quarter finals today in Rio, to decide which is the first European team to move ahead.
The Germans, who won the last of their three cups in 1990, have had their share of travails but get to Maracanã Stadium with an intact killer instinct, as far as striker Muller is concerned. Also, as the core of this team has played together for at least four years, their collective will and tradition to overcome challenges may be a tough sell for the Blues.
France, which since its own win in Paris, in 1998, has been a shadow of its former glory, seems to have reawaken a fighting spirit badly misused in 2006, and completely lost four years ago in South Africa. For the French, this has been Benzema’s cup to win, and he’s a serious contender to the tournament’s top scorer.
Brazil and Colombia match skills for the first time in the World Cup, in Fortaleza. As with the Europeans, there’s no favorite to move forward.
The Colombians may have the edge, though, for their exuberant style of playing and the skills of 22-year old James Rodriguez, who leads the board of the competition, with five goals. He may as well have the game of a lifetime today. With a superior record than the hosts so far, there’s no lack of confidence that this may be their time to shine.
Brazilians, however, are under so much pressure that some of them cracked after narrowly beating Chile on penalty kicks, last week. Even a psychologist was called, supposedly for last-minute counseling. But a team that counts with its own 22-year old, Neymar, simply can’t be underestimated. It may be just a matter of getting him the ball.