Hello and welcome back to the Gillette Boot Room for the first day of the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals!
Good day to you, Bootroom! How the devil are you?
Welcome back Boston - me too! Although BBQ and sunshine helped me weather the storm.
Mike - I have to say, I can't think of anything to add to that. Strong start!
Our first game today takes place at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro as France and Germany go head-to-head for a place in the semifinals. Mamadou Sakho and Antoine Griezmann come into the side for Les Bleus, replacing Arsenal duo Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud, while Per Mertesacker is out with Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels preferred at centre-back.
Both Didier Deschamps and Joachim Low have gone with 4-2-3-1 formations, and we could well see World Cup history made if Miroslav Klose manages to get on the scoresheet today: the 36-year-old striker needs one more goal to edge past Ronaldo’s tally of 15 and become the tournament’s all-time top scorer - and what a time it would be to get it.
After that delightful European entre, we’re on to a main course of the South American persuasion as tournament hosts Brazil take on Colombia. The Selecao edged past Chile last time round on penalties, but with James Rodriguez notching five goals for the competition already, Neymar & Co. will have to be on top form to prevent an upset.
Morty, he wasn't at his best last time round, but I have to say he came through in the end. Low stands by him, but he does need a big performance today.
So, I've got some teamsheets for you. If I can just figure out how this works again...
And yes, that's Lahm back on the right and Klose up front. Germany finally have a focal point and the best right-back back at right-back.
Ian P, that's a good call. Tey may not be 100% fit, but they certainly have the talent and know-how to edge him. If they get him involved in a battle, they could well prosper - but let him have time and space, and he'll punish Germany.