The Quarter Finals are upon us! We have eight quality sides facing off in these games and there isn’t one of these games which is easy to predict.
On Friday we have France v Germany followed by Brazil v Columbia then on Saturday Argentina will play Belgium before Netherlands take on Costa Rica.
France v Germany
The first tie of the Quarter Finals is probably the most mouth watering. Two of Europe’s giants go head to head in what should be a thrilling encounter. Both sides have squads filled with talented individuals able to make the difference, but it’s as collective units that both teams have impressed. France demonstrated a lot of attacking flair in their first two games against Honduras and Switzerland, but they struggled to a goalless draw against Ecuador before grinding out a 2-0 win against Nigeria. Nigeria were an average side at best, but their work ethic had France on the back foot before eventually succumbing to French pressure. It may just have been a bad day for France, but you got the impression that had France played a more clinical side they could be out of the tournament.
They now face perhaps the most clinical side of them all. When it comes to Germany in the World Cup, the cliches are true. They are efficient, hard working, focussed and determined. They are a very hard side to beat. Algeria gave their all against them in the last sixteen, but Germany eventually saw them off. However, Algeria may just have given hope to other teams with their performance. They got in behind Germany time and time again and, but for an alert Manuel Neuer, could have grabbed a win. So neither team is firing on all cylinders, but you can be sure both sides will be well up for this. Germany are 8/5 with William Hill or 29/20 with Bovada to win this one and I think they will see off the French challenge. Germany do tend to play a high line and I can see France exploiting this at some point. Germany to win and both teams to score is 5/1 with William Hill and 9/2 with Bovada.
Top Bet: Germany to Win and Both Teams to Score at 5/1 (William Hill) or 9/2 (Bovada)
Brazil v Columbia
A potential South American classic! Brazil have looked functional as opposed to the exciting, sexy side we were anticipating. With the exception of Neymar they don’t have a lot of creativity in their team and tend to rely on the Barcelona striker for any attacking impetus. Fellow forwards Hulk and Fred haven’t impressed and Brazil have done just enough to get through so far. It would have been interesting to see how they would have fared without an excellent home support to spur them on.
Columbia on the other hand have been a revelation. They have played with freedom, guile and energy and have scored some of the goals of the tournament. Although James Rodriguez has stolen all the headlines, it is remiss to overlook the contribution of his team mates. They are an excellent side and I can see them pulling off a big shock. Columbia are 2/1 with Ladbrokes and Bet365 or 19/10 with Bovada to qualify. Columbia to qualify by winning on penalties is 14/1 with Bovada or 12/1 with Bet Victor.
Top Bet: Columbia to Qualify at 2/1 (Bet365) or 19/10 (Bovada)
Argentina v Belgium
This match is a repeat of the 1986 World Cup Semi Final when Diego Maradona famously destroyed Belgium to book a place in the Final. Argentina will hope this is a good omen as they look to become World Champions for the first time since Mexico ’86. Maradona may have had his day, but Argentina have a new hero in the form of Lionel Messi. Just as Maradona almost single handedly dragged Argentina to the trophy almost 30 years ago, Messi has been the deciding factor in all of Argentina’s games so far. Belgium have not impressed me so far. They have been difficult to break down, but I feel they’ve been fortunate to get through.
USA gave them an almighty shock in the last sixteen and but for the width of the post it could be USA facing Argentina in the Quarter Finals. If Belgium manage to nullify Messi they have a chance and I expect this will be their strategy. I anticipate a draw in this one. This is 23/10 with Bet365 and Paddy Power or 12/5 with Bovada. USA seemed to be fitter than Belgium in extra time and this is when I expect the game to be won. Argentina are 8/1 with Bovada to win it in extra time. The same bet is 9/1 with William Hill. I can see this being a dull affair and No Goalscorer is 11/1 with Stan James or 7/1 with Bovada.
Top Bet: Argentina to win in extra time at 8/1 (Bovada) or 9/1 (William Hill)
Netherlands v Costa Rica
On paper the Netherlands should win this, but write Costa Rica off at your peril. They have defied the odds throughout this tournament and find themselves deservedly in the Quarter Finals. It’s been an incredible story. First they topped a group containing England, Uruguay and Italy before seeing off Greece in a tense penalty shoot-out. They have proved they are no mugs and Netherlands would be wise not to underestimate them. Netherlands started the tournament in barnstorming style when they thrashed Spain, but it has almost been downhill for them since then. It took two late goals for them to overturn a goal deficit against Mexico in the last sixteen, with their winner having a hint of good fortune about it. This might be the interesting thing about this Dutch side though.
In previous tournaments they have allowed ego and internal conflict dominate their camp and as a result have gone out with a whimper. This time they look to have a good team spirit and a resilience that has seen them progress when they have been up against it. I feel that they should beat Costa Rica providing they approach the game with the correct attitude. Their manager Louis Van Gaal is nobody’s fool and he should instil the correct mentality.
I am going to take Netherlands to win this one, but Costa Rica won’t go down without a fight. Draw half time, Netherlands full time is 10/3 with Paddy Power or 11/4 with Bovada. You could also take the game to be a draw at half time at odds of 23/20 with Ladbrokes (not available on Bovada). As I think Netherlands will leave it late, it wouldn’t be a surprise if a substitute scored the first goal. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar did well coming off the bench in the last game and he is 5/1 (Bet365, Ladbrokes, William Hill) or 9/2 (Bovada) to score the first goal.
Top Bet: Draw half time/Netherlands full time at 10/3 (Paddy Power) or 11/4 (Bovada).