World Cup 2014: Day 23 - open thread

Buda Mendes

Quarterfinals!

We're really at the sharp end of the World Cup now, with the quarterfinals kicking off on Friday. We'll be back to moaning and groaning about Manchester United before you know it. Hopefully that won't spoil your enjoyment of two tasty-looking contests between four sides who've looked more capable of going on to win the tournament than anyone in the other half of the draw.

Today's games

France vs. Germany, Rio de Janeiro, 12:00 ET/17:00 UK

France have perhaps been the least-flawed 'big' team in a World Cup where most of them have looked pretty average. Germany are a case in point, having blitzed Portugal in their opening group game but having never really convinced since. While France beat Nigeria with a couple of late goals in the first knockout round, Germany had to go all the way through extra time before seeing off a brilliant Algeria. If TBB had to pick a winner, we'd go for Les Bleus.

Neymar vs. James Brazil vs. Colombia, Fortaleza, 16:00 ET/21:00 UK

It's functionalism vs. fun as tournament hosts Brazil take on the neutral's favourite Colombia in Fortaleza. It's the Colombians who are undoubtedly the hottest team left in the tournament, with the likes of James Rodríguez and future United winger Juan Cuadrado* excelling on the world stage. But the Seleção have home advantage and, more importantly, Neymar on their side. They've already dumped out the fun-loving Chile, and will be hoping to spoil their own party again on Friday.

*this probably won't happen. But dreaming is fun.

Today's United connections

Other than supposed United target Juan Cuadrado, our only real connections are with France. Our current left-back Patrice Evra is expected to start, as is Sir Alex Ferguson's least favourite man in the world, Paul Pogba. Germany backup goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler spent time at United as a youth, though never made a first team appearance before moving on.

Other stuff

Your correspondent has written big previews for both of today's games: France vs. Germany and Brazil vs. Colombia. There's also a lot more over at SB Nation Soccer, so be sure to check out the coverage over there throughout the day.

How to watch

If you're in the U.K., you'll find France vs. Germany on the BBC, and Brazil vs. Colombia on ITV. Across the Atlantic, ESPN and Univison have the games in the USA, while CBC have them in Canada. All have streaming options available. For other countries, check LiveSoccerTV.

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