Free-scoring Colombia take on Luis Suarez-less Uruguay in Rio de Janiero at the Maracana on Saturday.
Colombia has been one of the best teams of the tournament so far, racking up three wins from three and scoring nine goals in the process. As for Uruguay, Diego Godin’s late header in their final group game vs. Italy sent La Celest through to the last 16 as they recovered from their opening game defeat to Costa Rica.
The two sides have met 38 times in history, with Uruguay winning 18 and Colombia taking 11.
It will be a rambunctious affair in the famous Maracana, as both teams will be supported heavily by a vast army of travelling fans.
This could go all the way to extra time and penalties, so expect a tight and rambunctious affair in Rio.
Colombia: Ospina; Armero, Yepes (c), Zapata, Zúñiga; Aguilar, Sánchez, Cuadrado, James; Jackson, Teo.
Uruguay: Muslera, Godin (c), Pereira, Rodriguez, Forlan, Gimenez, Pereira, Arevalo, Gonzalez, Cavani, Caceres
How much will Uruguay miss Suarez?
This is the HUGE question around this game as La Celeste prepare for life after Suarez. Following his bite on Giorgio Chiellini in their final group game vs. Italy, Suarez has been banned for four months by FIFA and is out of the rest of the World Cup. Edinson Cavani has looked a shadow of the player who ripped it up with Napoli in years gone by but now he needs to step up and shine in Suarez’s absence. He is Uruguay’s only hope up top.
Can Colombia score early… and often?
With the likes of James Rodriguez and Jackson Martinez ripping it up for Colombia in the group stages, they are riding a wave of euphoria into the knockout rounds. If Colombia scores early, in front of what is bound to be a huge number of their own supporters, things could get out of hand. Just imagine if star striker Radamel Falcao would have been fit for the World Cup?
If Colombia score early it will force Uruguay to attack and this game could become a real cracker. However, the likelihood is that Uruguay will sit back, frustrate Colombia and try to score on a set piece like they did vs. Italy.
One blogger’s prediction
This will be a close encounter between two teams who know eachother very well. Expect late challenges, heated tempers and some staunch defense. It will be a real clash of styles at the Maracana, one that Colombia should just sneak with their superior attacking talents. Losing Suarez will prove costly for Uruguay.