Brazil - Colombia: World Cup 2014 Preview
Brazil vs Colombia: World Cup 2014 Preview

The family of Andres Escobar will be attending the match which promises to be the game of the tournament and will certainly be an emotional few hours for the relatives of the former-Colombian capain who was murdered following an own goal at the World Cup, knocking Colombia out.

It is almost 20 years to the day when not only football, but life as we know it was disgraced in a brutal act of anger in a car park in Medilin following the 27-year-old's own goal against the United States. The young captain was poised for a huge move to AC Milan but a shot from point blank range tragically halted that move.

Two of Escobar's team-mates remain in the team today, Faryd Mondragon and Mario Yepes. 20 years on from what was expected to be Colombia's World Cup, some are saying that this side will live up to the potential created for the team captained by Escobar.

James Rodriguez has shone brighter than Messi and Neymar in Brazil and will be looking to continue a wonderful four game scoring run against the hosts on Friday night. His commanding performances have set off all kinds of transfer rumours but there can be no disctractions for the 'crazy Colombians' on Friday as they face an underwhelming Brazil side.

Despite the non-complimentary tag, Brazil will be a great challenge for Jose Pekerman's exciting Colombian side. The hosts have not yet lived upto the hype and have been pulled along by a delightful Neymar.

Just as the main rivals, Argentina have done, Brazil have relied on their star man to win matches and although many of the scorelines suggest otherwise, the five-time winners don't look deserved of a sixth tournament win.

Despite the underwhelming performances of a team under huge pressure, they still maintain the incredible backing if the locals all across the 8,514,877 km of Brazil's football obsessed land. Brazil face their toughest challenge yet and the support combined with the crazy Colombian fans will provide a spectacular atmosphere in Fortaleza.

The hosts are far from favourites to win on Friday, coming into the game off the back of an intense game against Chile which they had to give everything for more than 120 minutes. Colombia earned their right to play with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Suarez-deprived Uruguay.

James Rodriguez scored a sublime goal before doubling up the lead with a superb team goal. 'Hamez' will face his biggest challenge yet as he faces the his young Brazilian counterpart, Neymar, in a battle for the starlight.

There has been no extraordinary goal for Neymar, in fact his first in this World Cup was a scuffed shot that trickles off the post and in. However, his ability has shone through a disappointing Brazil side. The Barcelona star has scored 4 in his four games so far at his home World Cup.

Rodriguez - Neymar promises great goods that can only be matched by Ronaldo - Messi of the last few years. The pair have nine goals between them and it's hard to imagine the game on Friday not including a goal from the two South American talents.

Team News

Brazil will be without Luis Gustavo, who had quietly done well until his suspension from bookings. Luiz Felipe Scolari has suggested that he will replaced by Tottenham's Paulinho but Gustavo's command over midfield will be missed as Scolari prepares to face the man simply known as 'Hamez'.

Neymar was obviously struggling before being subsituted in Brazil's penalty shoot-out victory over Chile in the Round of 16. He was suffering knee and thigh problems but Brazil have assured the nail-biting Brazilian public that their hero is fit and ready to face his South American neighbours.

Scolari will have to decide whether to keep the faith in Fred who has been very unimpressive so far. If he chooses to drop the out of form Fluminese striker, Jo is the main candidate to replace him. Jo came on for Fred against Chile but hardly improved Brazil's forward play.

Colombia can start the same team as they did against Uruguay should Pekerman choose as they face no fresh problems. Brazil go into the Fortaleza stadium with a very different mindset to that of the Colombians.

''It's normal to have people demanding that we play better,'' Brazil manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari said.

''But it's also normal what we have been seeing in this World Cup so far. There were a lot of even matches. There is no difference between teams that have tradition and world titles and the rest of the teams. Matches are being decided on penalties, in the final minutes, on mistakes.''

Rodriguez has spoken of the happiness in the Colombian squad: "We're very happy because we are making history,"

The supporters that remember the days of Escobar and co. could see their country finally win, says the leading goalscorer in Brazil: "We want to do even more because this is a team that really wants to win."

Neymar has had his own say on the encounter with his rival for the golden boot in Brazil: "Chile and Colombia have similar teams. It's going to be another war. We will need to be on top of our game from the beginning to try to play better. Hopefully we won't have to suffer so much."

The performance of the Brazilians against Chile was woeful for the team tipped to win the tournament when it began in June but midfielder, Ramires belives that the result will drive hem to victory against Chile.

''What happened against Chile will serve to motivate us in the next matches" Ramires said. ''We will be better prepared.''

Even Paul the Octopus from the last World Cup would find Friday's fixture a difficult one to predict but whatever the outcome, the battles between both teams and the individuals in two fascinating sides promises to be utterly brilliant.