Profiling the eight 2014 World Cup Quarter Final managersby Jack Kitson / 02 July 2014, 10:54Tweet
32 teams have been rapidly sliced down to just eight as the 2014 World Cup heads into the quarter-final stage. There has been no shortage of drama, rip-roaring action and controversy so far, which will continue into the last-8 on Friday. Below we profile the eight remaining managers and how they have fared so far in Brazil.
Luiz Felipe Scolari (Brazil)
Out of the 32 World Cup managers in Brazil, it was Luiz Felipe Scolari who entered into the tournament under the most pressure. Over 200 million Brazilians not only crave success on home soil, but expect it, and he is the man charged with leading A Seleção to glory, as he did back in 2002.
Scolari, who is the only manager in this list to have won the World Cup, is currently bidding to become only the second boss in history - after Italy's Vittorio Pozzo - to hoist the famous golden trophy on two occasions, which would be a staggering feat in the modern era. Brazil may not have the fear factor of old, but the current crop have proved that they can hold their nerve and handle the pressure, and come July 13 they could well have clinched their sixth World Cup.
Jose Pekerman (Colombia)
Colombia have arguably been the team of the tournament so far. Their attractive and effective brand of free flowing football has not only won them a plethora of fans, but elevated them from dark horses to major contenders.
Los Cafeteros have eased through to the quarter-finals with a 100% record, which included a comprehensive 2-0 victory over South American rivals Uruguay in the last-16. In the process they have blasted in 11 goals (and conceded just two), with star man James Rodriguez bagging half of that tally. The AS Monaco playmaker has been the player of the tournament so far, while he has also scored the best goal to date.
With Rodriguez in the side anything is possible. However, praise must also go to manager Jose Pekerman who has allowed his team to play with freedom and flair, while maintaining a solid defensive back bone. The former taxi driver has got his tactics spot on so far, and he now has the chance to prove himself against the best of Brazil on Friday, in what promises to be a mouth-watering last-8 clash in Fortaleza.
Didier Deschamps (France)
Didier Deschamps was heavily criticized by some quarters for omitting Samir Nasri from his World Cup squad. However, the French will have few complaints to date, having won all four of their matches in South America. Les Bleus are united with spirit and confidence sky high, and credit must go to Deschamps for molding together a fearless cohesive unit, which is in stark contrast to the infamous scenes of four years ago.
On Friday Deschamps faces his sternest test to date when his side take on European rivals Germany, who are the second favourites to win the tournament. The 45-year-old is not only afraid to make bold decisions, but to make changes when his plans don’t work out, as was evident against Nigeria. The win over the African side means that Deschamps is now remarkably unbeaten in 10 World Cup matches as a player and manager, and he’ll be gunning to extend that record in “the temple of football” that is the Maracana.
Joachim Low (Germany)
After so many near misses many feel that this could be Germany’s year that they finally end their 24 year wait for another World Cup success. Die Mannschaft got off to a perfect start with an opening 4-0 demolition of Portugal, however they have since failed to set the tournament alight, and were surprisingly taken to extra-time by a spirited Algeria in the last round.
Despite Tuesday’s unconvincing performance Germany still managed to carve out the win which saw them progress through to their eighth consecutive quarter-final. Joachim Low is under pressure to deliver in the showcase spectacle, and will be tested to the maximum against an in-form France side flowing with confidence. Friday's match against Les Bleus is a repeat of the stunning 1982 semi-final, which saw Germany edge a nerve-shredding penalty shoot-out, following a thrilling 3-3 draw.
Louis van Gaal (Netherlands)
Netherlands have reached the World Cup final three times, only to heartbreakingly lose out on each occasion, including four years ago in South Africa. Their quest for history got off to a stunning start with a 5-1 drubbing of defending champions Spain, and they have won all three of their matches since. The strong team spirit has so far worked wonders, with the Dutch refusing to panic against Mexico, and in the end it paid dividends following a brace of last-gasp goals.
Louis Van Gaal has changed the system and altered the style of the national team. Holland, and in particular Arjen Robben, excel going forward, but they have also been solid at the back, particularly in their last two games. Oranje will now be expected to swat aside the challenge of surprise package Costa Rica, although nothing is certain in what has so far been an enthralling tournament.
Jorge Luis Pinto (Costa Rica)
Jorge Luis Pinto is uundoubtedly the surprise name on this list, having remarkably defied the odds and led Costa Rica through to the quarter-finals for the first time in their history. The Central American minnows have stunned the football world in the last few weeks after storming to top spot in the Group of Death, following victories of Uruguay and Italy, and a draw against England.
Los Ticos then showcased their heart and determination against Greece, with whom they took to penalties (and won), despite playing an hour with 10 men. Pinto’s men have thrived on their underdog status, with the passionate coach continuing to thrill in the dugout, and he will now be gunning to mastermind a victory over the Dutch.
Alejandro Sabella (Argentina)
Before the tournament kicked-off Argentina were well fancied to go all the way in their home continent. But, while they are still being well backed, their performances have so far failed to live up to their large billing. Inspirational skipper Lionel Messi has saved his country in each match so far, but in order for Argentina to have a chance of winning the tournament their other players simply have to step up to the plate.
Alejandro Sabella has so been under-fire for his over reliance on Messi, while he has faced criticism for his tactics, which have included playing three at the back. The 59-year-old former Sheffield United midfielder changed things up against Switzerland by switching to a 4-4-1-1 system, however the new formation was very flat, and it took a last-gasp goal in extra-time for his side to squeeze past the Swiss.
Marc Wilmots (Belgium)
Marc Wilmots has successfully united a nation in times of political divide and uncertainty, after leading Belgium through to the quarter-finals. The 45-year-old has shown that he is not afraid to make changes - eg dropping Romelu Lukaku - however he will expect more from the likes of playmaker Eden Hazard. The Red Devils have the players, talent and determination to step it up another level, which they will need to do on Saturday against Argentina, as they bid to reach the semi-finals for only the second time in their history.
Belgium headed into the tournament as just about everyone’s dark horse pick, however it got so excessive that they were suddenly being picked out as a major contender. Despite failing to showcase their potential in the group stages they still recorded three wins out of three, and have since ousted USA in the last-16.