As we move into the latter stages of the competition, we will look ahead to the enthralling encounters with three key tactical questions that could determine which way this game swings. Harsh Khara here has a look at the Brazil vs Colombia World Cup Quarter-Final clash.
This tournament was expected to be dominated by Brazil and Argentina, surprisingly there’s another team that has hogged South America’s limelight and have become a joy to watch and that team is Colombia. Jose Pekerman’s men have shown the world what they’re capable of and have had a brilliant tournament thus far. Colombia have been unbeaten in this tournament and have had some spectacular outings such as their 4-1 thrashing of Japan and their comprehensive 2-0 win over Uruguay in the round of 16. Colombia also possess undoubtedly the star of the tournament thus far, James Rodriguez. Brazil on the other hand have been extremely reliant on their 22 year old Neymar. They haven’t been convincing this tournament and certainly have not been able to justify their “favourites” tag, having drawn against a determined Mexico and only scraping past a resilient Chile on penalties. This could probably turn out to be the tie of the tournament given their South American rivalry and the genius of Luiz Felipe Scolari facing off against the determined Jose Pekerman.
James Rodriguez or Neymar, who’ll make the bigger impact?
Both these players have had a brilliant tournament thus far and have churned out some match winning displays. While James Rodriguez is the leading contender for the player of the tournament with his 5 goals and 2 assists, Neymar isn’t exactly far behind having managed to score 4 goals as he has led his Brazil right from the front. James Rodriguez dazzled against Uruguay and probably scored the goal of the tournament with a splendid finish while Neymar was oft the only viable threat when it came to Brazil attacking against Chile. Both these players are No 10’s for their respective countries but aren’t exactly similar type of players.
Another point to be noted is the way in which James Rodriguez has linked up with Cuadrado who in the process has accumulated 4 assists whereas Neymar despite his efforts and decent crosses has been unable to link up with his Brazilian forwards. Whichever team goes through tomorrow will probably give us the player of the tournament and that player without doubt would be either of these two.
Who is going to score the goals for Brazil?
While Colombia have scored 11 goals in this World Cup , Brazil have accumulated just 8 out of which 4 of those came against a ten man Cameroon. Neymar leads the way for Brazil with 4 goals followed by Oscar, Fernandinho, Fred with a goal a piece and another own goal. A major concern for Brazil this tournament has been their lack of quality or creativity supplied by their centre forwards. Fred was a star at last year’s Confederations Cup but has been unable to perform for his nation this time round. Luiz Felipe Scolari is known to be a rigid tactician and does not like to shuffle his squad much and has thus shown his faith in Fred but his disappointment was visible when he brought the striker off for Jo against Chile.
Despite dominating most of their games and creating several chances, Brazil have been unable to click and clearly lack a poacher up front. While Neymar has done well on the wings, Brazil have oft been toothless through the centre. His replacement against Chile, Jo, was even worse and failed to capitalize on the service he was being provided as Brazil were inches away from being knocked out courtesy Pinilla’s shot hitting the bar. The mighty Hulk is also goalless and Brazil are clearly having issues upfront. The quarter finals isn’t exactly the best place to experiment and thus don’t expect a rather rigid Scolari to fiddle much with his favourite 11 but that same rigidity and lack of quality up front might just cost the tournament favourites and hosts the game.
Will Brazil’s full backs cost them the game?
Marcelo and Dani Alves both have a knack of rampaging forward and oft provide crucial support to Brazil’s attacks. Couple that with a David Luiz who loves getting forward and you’re left with the trusty Thiago Silva all by himself. Colombia have been lethal on the wings and would be looking to capitalize on every counter they get. Juan Cuadrado leads the assists charts with 4 spectacular assists and has done so from the wing. Their ability to play as a unit amongst themselves has been incredible and their chemistry will be something Brazil will have to worry about.
While both Marcelo and Dani Alves are fast players, Juan Cuadrado, Pablo Armero and Zuniga are players who can outrun them. Colombia’s forwards have also been known to trouble defences this tournament with Guituirrez and Martinez both managing to score, the latter with a brace against Japan. It will certainly be interesting to see how Jose Pekermen chooses to lineup against Brazil knowing that they’re certainly vulnerable through the wings as Alexis Sanchez exhibited the other day. Colombia also possess three extremely clinical forwards in Martinez, Guituirrez and Ramos who could easily capitalize on any blunder out on the wings and they ofcourse have their talisman James Rodriguez who is waiting for that pass in the centre.
Moreover Brazil’s wingers being Neymar and Hulk who don’t exactly track back to support their defence, Scolari will have to be wary. Scolari loves to see his full backs counter but would need to think twice this time with Colombia being a far greater challenge than anything he’s encountered thus far.
Brazil vs Colombia promises to be a memorable encounter with Brazil possessing the home advantage and Colombia in the ruthless form. It will be interesting to see whether an Argentinean can overcome a Brazilian mastermind.
Thank you for reading. What are your thoughts on the game and do you see some other important questions that need addressing? Let us know with a comment below. Do share this piece through one of the buttons below, you don’t have to but we’d appreciate it if you do!