Our Man in Brazil

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An essential aspect of our World Cup Fantasy Football competition has been the local view from our reporter in Rio, Euan Marshall.
Euan here poses his views on tonights' Quarter Final games:

Euan Marshall


After imploding off the pitch in their last two major tournaments, France seem to have finally engineered a healthy environment for their squad, and as a result they are playing some of their best football since the turn of the millennium. They take on their neighbours Germany in Rio de Janeiro's iconic Maracana stadium in their biggest test of the tournament, with a place in the semi-finals at stake.

The game will kick off at 1pm local time, meaning conditions will be very testing indeed for both sides. Rio de Janeiro is not among the hottest parts of Brazil, but it can enjoy tremendously hot temperatures. During the match, the mercury should reach 33 celcius, meaning that we are likely to see the return of the Fifa-imposed cooling breaks in the middle of each half.

Germany, in my opinion are beginning to struggle for fitness. They chose to base themselves in the balmy north-eastern state of Bahia, giving them the advantage in hot temperatures in the group stage, but the extended exposure to such conditions appears to be taking its toll. This week, the German side have been hit by a sickness bug, with several players complaining of feeling poorly and having sore throats. If this match goes to extra-time, the French could have the extra energy to see themselves through.

WC balls


The headline match of the quarter-finals, hosts Brazil will be tested once again by the tournament's most impressive team so far.

There are certainly plenty of reasons to suggest Colombia have a great chance of spoiling the Brazilian party. They are one of the few teams in the competition to have a clear collective idea and they play together superbly. The chemistry that they have shown is so hard to achieve at international level, so Brazil will dismiss them at their peril.

Furthermore, Colombia have the best player of the World Cup so far, Monaco playmaker James Rodri­guez. James is nimble, enthusiastic and incredibly skilful. The way he is able to manipulate the ball at his feet gives echoes of Zinedine Zidane, such is his class in possession. He also has intelligence beyond his years. At only 22, he already possesses an astonishing understanding of his tactical role, able to find pockets of space on the pitch, even when opponents try their best to tightly mark him.

Brazil are certainly worried, but instead of focusing on their opponent's strengths, they are obsessing with their own potential weaknesses. There is still plenty of football to be played before the final on July 13, but the Brazilian squad have already let their emotions spill over. Many believe Brazil got let off the hook against Chile, and if this match goes down to the wire once more, they may not be so lucky. Brazil's players look like they are going to war, while Colombia's squad looks like a group of childhood friends on their first summer holiday without their parents.

That said, beating Brazil at home is incredibly rare. Their last loss came back in 2002 in a friendly with Paraguay. Since then, no-one has been able to beat them on Brazilian soil.

More from Euan on Saturday's games on Tarvinonline tomorrow