World Cup quarter-finals: Sportsmail's lowdown on the eight remaining teams

Ahead of this weekend's quarter-finals, Sportsmail's experts in Brazil run the rule over the eight remaining teams at the World Cup...
 
FRANCE
Strengths: There is a balance that somehow works. Not the best side on paper but sum of their parts may be greater than the rest.
Weaknesses: Patrice Evra is often exposed; Blaise Matuidi and Paul Pogba are red cards waiting to happen; and Olivier Giroud has struggled.
Can they win it? Probably not. Could beat Germany, but could struggle if they face Brazil in the semi-finals.
Key man: Yohan Cabaye. If he imposes himself on the game, the rest falls into shape.
GERMANY
Strengths: They have the world’s best keeper in Manuel Neuer. In midfield they have unlimited attacking options.
Weaknesses: The indulgence of captain Philipp Lahm in the centre. He should be playing full back. Defence is vulnerable and they will be beaten by the best teams.
Can they win it? No, they will come up short.
Key man: Toni Kroos. More passes than any other player so far at the World Cup. He is the heartbeat of the team.
BRAZIL
Strengths: Neymar, especially now he is fit for Friday night’s game. Wide man Hulk is improving and David Luiz and Thiago Silva can look solid.
Weaknesses: Over-reliant on Neymar; Fred as a target man; Oscar not imposing himself; the nerves that may overwhelm them — it’s a long list.
Can they win it? Yes, but only because there is a determination not to fail.
Key man: Neymar. When he plays, they function; when he’s denied space, they falter.
COLOMBIA
Strengths: Incisive passing, speed down the flanks, clinical finishing. Coach Jose Pekerman has worked out a system to mitigate the absence of Radamel Falcao.
Weaknesses: Mario Yepes has been imperious but at some point the 38-year-old defender will be exposed. The back four is yet to be tested.
Can they win it? The heart says yes, the head says Brazil will end the fairytale.
Key man: The star of the World Cup, James — that’s Hamez — Rodriguez.
ARGENTINA
Strengths: Same as they ever were: Lionel Messi and that array of attacking options. That said, in reality the difference between them and the others all boils down to one man.
Weaknesses: Defensively they are a shambles at times. A really good side, who can dominate possession against them, will expose that.
Can they win it? Yes. They are finding a way to win despite their problems.  
Key man: Everything starts and finishes with Messi.
Weight of expectation: Messi is the man Argentina hope will deliver them the World Cup 
BELGIUM
Strengths: Rarely concede and boast lots of match-winners. Have the capacity to get much better.
Weaknesses: Players like Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Kevin Mirallas are all gifted, but sometimes play like they’ve never met each other before.
Can they win it? Perhaps, if they can build on what they have and keep their defensive line strong.
Key man: Vincent Kompany. They aren’t the same team without their composed captain.
HOLLAND
Strengths: They have match-winners and a smart coach who has convinced them they’re better than they are. Players like Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder can turn games.
Weaknesses: They lack quality throughout the team. Their defence isn’t good enough to get the job done at this level.
Can they win it? We may have seen the best of them already. Could struggle against a top side.
Key man: Robben. Has gifts that most players can only dream of.
COSTA RICA
Strengths: Hungry and energetic with terrific spirit. Joel Campbell’s pace and Bryan Ruiz’s craft build on a strong defensive base.
Weaknesses: The element of surprise is wearing a little thin. Oscar Duarte will miss the quarter-final through suspension and they are not deadly in front of goal.
Can they win it? It would be a fabulous story but — no.
Key man: Keylor Navas. The keeper has been inspirational. He is an athletic shot-stopper who commands his area.






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Anika Devi received her Bachelor’s degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University in 2012. She began freelancing for Business Solutions BD in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor.
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