As the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup 2014 start today, its battle of the world`s heavyweights who know a win could get them to the last-four. Germany are pitted against France as hosts Brazil face gritty Colombia. In an exclusive chat with Aditi Tyagi of Zee Media, former Indian skipper Baichung Bhutia said that Hulk and Fred need to help Neymar for Brazil. He also added that the flu that hit several German players will be a blow against France.
Excerpts from the conversation:
So it`s the last eight teams, how much importance the ties hold?
Yes the matches are important today. The first match is a clash between European giants and the second one will see South American giants fighting. Colombia have been exceptional. Brazil on the other hand have rather been inconsistent. They haven`t created enough chances as only Neymar has shined for them.
So is it a fight between the number 10`s (Neymar vs Rodriguez)?
Number 10 jersey is very important. Best players in the team get that jersey. Both these players have utilised this jersey very well. Pele and Maradona were the best number 10`s. James Rodriguez has been emphatic and has scored five goals. He has definitely made Pele and Maradona proud.
How do you sum up Neymar`s performance?
Neymar has been the star for Brazil. He has played well for Barcelona in club level and also for the national team on a consistent basis.
The other big players haven`t been up to the mark. How do they step up to help Neymar?
Yes Hulk and Fred need to contribute. Both of them are quality players. They have experience and Hulk has played in Europe for Porto and Zenit therefore he has the added zeal. Combination is a factor here and that needs to strike. Oscar too needs to develop his game. He played well in the first game but since then has fizzled out. Even the other players in the team need to come together and perform better.
Colombia have grooved well with their dancing moves. Will we see another dance?
Brazil players and fans will not want to see the dances. If they score, they will dance for sure so Brazil need to stop that. Rodriguez has scored world class goals and the team has been involved in that. They have played together and looked well as a unit.
German camp has been hit by flu. How much impact can it have on the game?
It`s real bad news for the German fans. Its a big match and top players have got the flu. Their fitness and health will matter. It will surely change the set-up. It will bear a physical and psychological effect on the players.
So is it a battle between Tomas Muller and Karim Benzema? A star versus a star?
Tomas Muller has been Germany`s best player. Four goals in four matches tell you that. He has had a good knack for goals despite not being an out to out striker. He has had a dream start to the tournament. Benzema has been very good for France. Giroud too is there but he needs to score more goals.
How much does experience matter for Germany
Yes they have massive experience and that counts. Germany have been to the latter stages in major tournaments on a consistent basis. Their defence has at times struggled but they have an amazing goalkeeper. Manuel Neuer is the best goalie in the world.
What are your predictions for the matches
It will be a very good first match and I think Germany will win it. As far as the other match goes, Colombia have been good but Brazil have the home advantage and they have the quality. I feel Brazil will win the tie.