Colombia (4-0-0) vs. Brazil (2-0-2), 4 p.m. (ET)
07/04/2014 8:15 AM
07/04/2014 8:18 AM
Forteleza, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - Brazil's road to World Cup glory on home soil will be tested on Friday when the nation faces Colombia at the Estadio Castelao.
Looking to avenge the result of the 1950 World Cup when it hosted the tournament and lost in the final, Brazil has been handed a difficult route to the promise land in 2014.
After being pushed all the way to penalties in the round of 16 by a stout Chilean team, Brazil must now face a Colombia side that has emerged as one of the front-runners to win the competition.
While Brazil has the star power of Neymar, David Luiz and Oscar, Jose Pekerman is hoping that Colombia's team-first approach can carry the nation to the semifinals, where it would face either France or Germany.
"Sometimes a team with a lot of potential, if they don't find the result and they need to win, they can't play so brilliantly," Pekerman said of Brazil after beating Uruguay in the round of 16. "So the competition becomes interesting because a team with less individual stars can disturb the balance of the other team."
Of course, Colombia is not void of stars itself. James Rodriguez has been the toast of the tournament thus far, producing stunning bits of play and coming up with five goals to sit atop the race for the Golden Boot.
Brazil, though, has not hit its top gear just yet, and the host nation is looking forward to Friday's continental battle.
"There's no doubt that being continental rivals has a huge impact," Brazil defender Dani Alves told FIFA's official website. "Emotionally, they're very tough games, because unlike European nations, we come up against each other all the time - in the Copa America, in World Cup qualifying.
"In technical terms too, it's a different style of football, though that side of things is changing. Football has evolved a lot and nearly all the best South American players are in Europe. That's made the national teams here get even better and stronger. The games are still intense, with that South American flavor, but with more players used to always playing at the very highest level."
The Brazilians see themselves as a team of destiny, and while many of the team's supporters are disappointed in the lack of beautiful football on display, Neymar has stressed that advancing beyond each round is what's truly important.
"You can't always enjoy yourself and win 4-0 or 5-0," the Barcelona forward said in a press conference. "Football nowadays is so difficult, so even, that the team who is most committed on the pitch ends up winning. I don't want a show. That's the last thing we are trying to do. We are not necessarily here to produce a spectacle. We are here to run to the end, until we are tired, and come out as winners.
"I would be happy to do nothing in this game if Brazil won 1-0. That would be marvelous."
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