Joachim Loew’s Germany qualified for the World Cup semi-finals for a record fourth consecutive time on Friday after beating France at the Maracana Stadium in Rio.
Mats Hummels headed home a Toni Kroos free-kick to score what turned out to be the winner on 13 minutes.
Hummels proved to be crucial in the back line also as Germany held off a France side lacking in agression and adventure.
Germany keeper Manuel Neuer was rarely called into action although when he was he kept his composure to deny ‘Les Blues’ the equalizer – notably Karim Benzema’s close range effort deep into stoppage time.
It is Germany’s 13th appearance in the semis from 18 editions.
Home dream continues
Hosts Brazil are also through courtesy of a 2-1 win over Colombia in Fortaleza.
Skipper Thiago Silva sent the home crowd into wild celebrations after just seven minutes when he smashed home a scrappy goal with his knee.
There was nothing scrappy about the second as David Luiz fired a stunning free-kick into the top right corner from 35 yards out on 69 minutes.
James Rodriguez pulled one back from the penalty spot with 10 minutes left for his sixth goal of the tournament but the equalizer never came as Brazil continue their march towards a sixth title.
The win came at a price though with Neymar being stretchered off late on and Silva’s yellow means he’ll miss the semis.
Unbeaten so far
After scraping through their last 16 tie with Switzerland Argentina will be looking for improvements if they are to reach the last four for the first time since Italy 1990.
Coach Alejandro Sabella will have to make do without suspended left-back Marcos Rojo – Jose Basanta is expected to deputize.
Sergio Aguero remains unavailable due to injury.
This is Belgium’s second World Cup quarter final – 28 years after their first visit to the last eight – and they went on to finish fourth then.
Like Argentina, Belgium are yet to taste defeat at this World Cup.
Coach Marc Wilmots might have to do without Tottenham star Mousa Dembele who is a doubt with a thigh injury but Thomas Vermaelen has recovered from a thigh problem.
David and Goliath
The Netherlands, who are in search of a first title after three failed attempts in the final, play tournament’s surprise package Costa Rica for the very first time.
Soon-to-be Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal will have to wait for a late fitness test on striker Robin Van Persie who is experiencing thigh problems.
But he will be without former Manchester City player Nigel de Jong who is dealing with a groin injury and has been ruled out for the rest of the tournament.
Costa Rica manager Jorge Luis Pinto had a minor scare when goalkeeper Keylor Navas missed practice over a minor shoulder injury mid week but he should be fit to feature against the Oranje.
The World Cup’s surprise package will however be missing defender Oscar Duarte through suspension while his replacement Roy Miller is also out of the World Cup with a leg injury.
We might be wrong
So far our predictions have been poor, it’s not so easy to call this tournament and I’m sure you agree.
Nonetheless we’ll keep on giving it a go. You can do the same on the social networks by using #TheCornerScores.
So here they are this time.
After a few moments of disagreement we predict that Belgium will upset the odds and beat Argentina 1-0 while we feel the Netherlands will prevail against Costa Rica winning through 3-2
What a load of rubbish
During the World Cup thousands of supporters have come to Brazil for the football and parties, which has created large quantities of rubbish on the streets and in the fanzones.
Football on show and the sun shining means the liquids are flowing.
As fans celebrate or commiserate, their waste becomes somebody else’s work.
A pop-up recycling centre has been installed around the Fan Fest in Salvador by a Brazilian company working for improvements in sustainability, in partnership with FIFA.
An estimated five tons of rubbish are produced in each of the stadiums on match days, luckily 850 rubbish collectors have been deployed to do the rounds.