SHEER JOY: Costa Rica has had a lot to cheer about in the World Cup so far
Argentina needs to lose its desperation to advance further and Colombia is the major revelation of this World Cup aided ably by its star James Rodriguez.
We are now at the quarterfinal stage of the competition with four European and four Latin American teams. This Brazil team is the weakest in its World Cup history. Costa Rica needs to repeat what it has done up to now, because it is the best Latin American team here. Argentina needs to lose its desperation to advance further and Colombia is the major revelation of this World Cup aided ably by its star James Rodriguez.
Let’s see what awaits us:
Colombia vs Brazil: Brazil and Colombia are two totally different teams. In all its matches Brazil has made things very, very complicated for itself. Whatever it does is based on its history and tradition and its players’ technical skills. And it has a great capacity to unbalance its opponents.
Colombia is a team moulded by a coach (Jose Pekerman) who is ambitious. Colombia has appeared on the scene with a player like James Rodriguez who caught everybody’s attention with extraordinary skills. He is the greatest revelation in this World Cup. He possesses enormous technical skills and physical presence.
The match will be very interesting with two teams structured in different ways. Brazil relies too much on Neymar. But it will be playing against a team which has more attacking players. It remains to be seen whether Colombia is capable of imposing its style on the game. If it plays as its coach wants, then it will be very difficult task for Brazil.
Argentina vs Belgium: Argentina is making things much more difficult for itself than expected. It is desperate to win all its matches. The most important thing the Argentines need to correct is that they should play to win, not to think about winning even before the game starts. In every match it wants to seize the initiative without working out a plan as seen in the narrow win over Switzerland.
Belgium is a totally different team compared to Switzerland. Perhaps it has much better players. But the Belgians are not as compact as the Swiss.
Germany vs France: Germany is the only team (of the eight remaining) which has conviction and clarity of ideas on the pitch. But there is no great centre-forward nor outstanding winger who could define the game, players such as (Wolfgang) Overath or (Gerd) Muller.
Germany has struggled to define the games up to now but it is the best team as far as preparation and execution of their plans in major tournaments are concerned. France is another heavyweight in European football with excellent players, but it does not have a clear strategy. The French are impulsive and creative. It will be a tough game. Germany seems to be the favourite.
Netherlands vs Costa Rica: This is a very, very interesting game. Two teams which, aside from the personal tastes of the spectator or the analyst, have clarity of thought. One of them, Costa Rica, puts emphasis on technical skills, on possession of the ball, reducing space up front. The Netherlands has fielded a solid team which will face challenges with three main players — Sneijder, van Persie and Robben.
Costa Rica has been the surprise package in Brazil, but we know that there are many such countries in Central America with very good players. Beware of the ‘Ticos’ because they can play very good football.
Netherlands has an advantage. It does not complicate issues in confrontations like this. It has many extremely competitive players. Costa Rica needs to repeat its act to date, nothing more, because collectively it has played the best football of all the remaining Latin American teams. — Hawkeye / Chivach Sports
(Cesar Luis Menotti is 1978 World Cup-winning coach of Argentina)