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TheScore.ie’s World Cup last 8 power rankings

Just one more day before the quarter-finals are upon us.

Brazil Soccer WCup Japan Colombia Source: Kirsty Wigglesworth

THE QUARTER-FINALS get underway tomorrow night and four of our writers have ranked the last 8 teams. As before, we’re not going on likelihood of winning tournament by draw or next opponents but purely judged on performances to date, squad depth, fitness, ability to deal with pressure and conditions, and potential for improvement.

Mikey Stafford

Colombia — For the first time in a 32-team World Cup all the group winners have qualified for the quarter-finals, but only Jose Pekerman’s team made it look easy. James Rodriguez and Co have Brazil very worried.
Brazil — There were tears and now there are fears over Neymar but do not underestimate the power of emotion for the hosts. Chile were a tricky opponent but for stages Brazil did look capable of trampling them.
Netherlands — Rode their luck against Mexico and while Arjen Robben will win no fair play awards the man must be hell to play against. Loss of Nigel De Jong not as crucial as it would have been four years ago. Louis Van Gaal can find a way.
Germany — Did not play well against Algeria, as they did not against Ghana, but there are no more African teams to fear and if Mario Gotze and Mesut Ozil remember who they are this attack can really click. Manuel Neuer is a fifth defender.
France — Play Karim Benzema through the middle and leave Olivier Giroud on the bench and Didier Deschamps’ team look frightening going forward. Paul Pogba, Mathieu Valbuena and Blaise Matuidi are a lovely mix of steel and silk in the middle.
Belgium — Made hard work of the United States but that was never going to be an easy match. If Romelu Lukaku can score more consistently Belgium have the midfield, defence and goalkeeper to make sure his goals mean something.
Argentina — If Brazil are weakened without Neymar, their southerly neighbours are next-to-nothing without Lionel Messi. Angel Di Maria and Pablo Zabaleta are supporting cast members who get honourable mentions.
Costa Rica — It is hard to see the underdogs winning another day. Keylor Navas is a wonderful goalkeeper, Celso Borges is a classy midfielder and Bryan Ruiz is a great attacker who looks vaguely like this guy who plays for Fulham. However you must take account of Greece’s limitations.

Brazil Soccer WCup France Nigeria Source: David Vincent

Adrian Russell

France – A lovely midfield and plenty of threat going forward. Are Les Bleus likeable?
Holland – LVG wont get to Manchester til September at this rate.
Colombia  - Great to watch and they’ve got ‘Hamez’.
Argentina – Messi looks like he’s dragging his side through this tournament. But that could be enough.
Germany – This side’s time came two years ago, right?
Belgium – Not the sum of their parts.
Brazil  - Playing with 13 men — the ref and the home support — and they still look creaky.
Costa Rica – God bless them, but the adventure’s over.

Brazil Soccer WCup Argentina Source: AP/Press Association Images

Ben Blake

France – A solid unit with quality all over the field, and particularly in midfield, Didier Deschamp’s men have been impressive but he has to play Benzema through the middle. 
Colombia - Inspired by man-of-the-moment Jamez Rodriguez, Los Cafeteros really have been a breath of fresh air at these finals. 
Netherlands – Didn’t have it all their way against Mexico but showed resilience and in Arjen Robben and Louis van Gaal, they possess two men who can get them to the final. 
Brazil - While this may not be a vintage Brazilian team, it’s still conceivable that they will go all the way.   
Argentina – Hugely reliant on Lionel Messi. Is that such a bad thing though…? 
Germany –  By no means writing them off but they need to improve fast. And get Mats Hummels back. 
Belgium – The talent is there in abundance but they haven’t quite clicked yet. Still in with a shout if they can against the Argies. 
Costa Rica – The so-called minnows are living the dream but this could be one step too far. 

Soccer - FIFA World Cup 2014 - Quarter Final - Netherlands v Costa Rica - Netherlands Training and Press Conference - Estadio Jose Bastos Padilh Source: Mike Egerton

Sean Farrell

Netherlands - Shown an ability to be this World Cup’s all-terrain vehicle. Nobody can change up a tactical plan as quickly or effectively, but the manner in which they can make space for Arjen Robben should be the envy of all other nations.
Colombia - They have coolly dispatched everyone put in front of them. Play wonderful football and are capable of extraordinary things too. Pressure hasn’t affected them so far, but the Brazilian crowd is a different challenge.
France - The best midfield in the tournament counts for a lot. Like Colombia, haven’t been tested a great deal but have calmly put teams away. 
Belgium - Improving performances with every game, only their impatience seemed to deny them a goal in regular time against the USA. Can improve further and will always have big Romelu ready to go from the bench.
Argentina - Another mismatch on paper decided by one moment from Lionel Messi. The loss of Aguero is a massive blow to an attack that was already (inconceivably) struggling ahead of a shaky defence.
Brazil - The hosts will have received the fright of their lives and now must face a team that actually produce the sort of Joga Bonito they adore. Neymar, the fear of falling short and home advantage will continue to power them on.
Germany - Have plenty of room to improve (if Lahm gets out of their midfielders’ way) and two of the most prolific goalscorers in World Cup history. But an organised team should be able to pick them apart.
Costa Rica - Sorry, Los Ticos. You look tired against England and exhausted against Greece. No way you’re going to take anyone far enough to snipe them off with your unbelievable penalty tekkers.
Do you agree? How would you rank the teams left? 

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