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World Cup: Aiming for the quarters

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By Euronews
World Cup: Aiming for the quarters

<p>The stage is set and the actors are waiting in the wings. The last 16 matches of the 2014 World Cup are upon us.</p> <p>Hosts Brazil take on Chile at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte.</p> <p>Brazil will have the expectations of an entire nation on their shoulders when they take on one of this edition’s surprise packages.</p> <p>Brazil qualified top spot in Group A but have so far failed to convince.</p> <p>Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has a full strength squad at his disposal and is likely to keep faith with a 4-2-3-1 formation against their South Americans rivals.</p> <p>A minor change might see Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho starting on the bench following some lacklustre displays with Manchester City’s Fernandinho a possible replacement.</p> <p><strong>Possible party poopers</strong></p> <p>Chile will look to become World Cup party poopers and knock out the hosts.</p> <p>Jorge Sampaoli’s side enjoyed impressive wins over Australia and defending champions Spain before losing to the Dutch in their final group fixture.</p> <p>Arturo Vidal missed that last match and training on Thursday afternoon but along with Gary Medel, should be expected to be fit in time for Saturday’s game.</p> <p>Chile are looking to progress to the quarter finals for the first time since their home World Cup in 1962.</p> <p><strong>Another All-South American affair</strong></p> <p>The legendary Maracana stadium plays host to another all-South American affair. </p> <p>Colombia, unbeaten in the group stage, take on Uruguay, who qualified at the death of their final group fixture, at the expense of Italy.</p> <p>The tie will be a test of which team can cope better without their star striker.</p> <p>Colombia don’t appear to have missed their main man Radamel Falcao too much at the World.</p> <p>They have impressed on the Brazilian pitches so far and won Group C cruising to victory in all three matches, scoring nine goals.</p> <p>Coach Jose Pekerman has no injury or suspension concerns. </p> <p>Mario Yepes has recovered from a hamstring problem earlier this week and after missing the Japan game is expected to return to the starting line-up.</p> <p><strong>Time to refocus</strong></p> <p>Uruguay will also be missing their star striker Luiz Suarez who has been banned following another biting episode in his controversial career.</p> <p>Oscar Tabarez’s side must refocus following the blow of losing Suarez.</p> <p>Edinson Cavani will now get the chance to step up and shine and spearhead the attack with Diego Forlan the likely replacement for Suarez.</p> <p>Uruguay lead the head-to-head record with Colombia having won four of their last six encounters between them.</p> <p>Colombia’s last win over Uruguay came in 2012 – Luiz Suarez was absent from that fixture too.</p> <p><strong>Back home</strong></p> <p>The Uruguayan star is already back home in Montevideo, after <span class="caps">FIFA</span> banned him for biting Giorgio Chiellini. </p> <p>Italian defender Chiellini meanwhile appears to bear no grudges and has called the sanction ‘excessive’.</p> <p>Leaving Brazil with your team in the last 16 was the last thing Suarez would have wanted but he had no choice in the matter.</p> <p>His four-month ban from all football-related activities includes him not being allowed to attend his nation’s remaining matches at the World Cup.</p> <p>Although criticised worldwide for his actions, hundreds of fans of the player flocked to Carrasco International Airport near Montevideo to show their support and welcome the banned striker home.</p> <p>During his football exile Suarez could even be sold by Liverpool as Barcelona remain keen to sign the 27-year-old despite him being unable to play until the end of October.</p> <p>On top of the four month and nine international match ban Suarez was also fined just over 82 000 euros.</p> <p>Punishment that has surely left a bitter taste in his mouth.</p> <p><strong>We might be wrong</strong></p> <p>How are tonight’s games going to end? Here is the Euronews sports team’s predictions. Don’t forget you can send us your predictions via the social networks, using #TheCornerScores throughout the rest of the tournament.</p> <p>Although they haven’t lived up to their full potential yet we feel hosts Brazil should enjoy a 3-1 victory over their south American rivals while we predict Colombia will take full advantage of Suarez’s absence and celebrate a 2-1 over Uruguay.</p>