World Cup: Chelsea's three quarters
Feature Fri 4 Jul 2014
The possibility of a remarkable seven Chelsea players competing in the semi-finals of the World Cup comes under considerable test today (Friday) as two of the nations involved play their quarter-final matches.
The draw has kept group-stage winners Germany, Brazil and Belgium apart in the last eight pairings, but although all three were taken near to the limit in their draining, 120-minute Round of 16 matches earlier this week, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic that our #CFCinBrazil Twitter hashtag will still be in action after this weekend.
First involved and hopefully on-pitch today will be Andre Schurrle whose World Cup burst into life against Algeria on Monday. As in previous games he was a second-half substitute but this time our German attacker made the big difference, scoring the opener in the calm, well-judge manner Chelsea fans witnessed last season, and being heavily involved in the second.
Now Germany face France in the Maracana in a tie that conjures up memories of true World Cup classics in 1982 and 1986.
'It's a childhood dream to be at a World Cup here in Brazil,' Schurrle has told FIFA.com on the eve of this latest match against their neighbours.
'Now we've got to show what we're made of against France. Anyone would love to be part of a match like that. My chances of starting the match definitely haven't worsened.
'France have some fantastic individual players,' he added. 'They have a lot of quality and can create goals from any situation. We know their strengths, but we also know ours.
'We've got to perform better. We've just got to concentrate and play well. If we can do that, we can beat the French.'
There are reports of a 'flu-like virus affecting the German camp but Schurrle appeared fit and well when performing media conference duties this week, and he was quoted as saying when players come to a World Cup with Germany, they are expected to win it, and the same can be said for the Brazilians who play today's later game.
It is another match against a team from South America, following on from their penalty shoot-out win over Chile, and ahead of their quarter-final with Columbia the hosts been explaining the emotion that was visible during their last game.
Ramires, who came on in the second half of that match, with Willian replacing Oscar in extra-time, said:
'Everybody's talking about the psychological status of our players but I've seen more experienced players crying on the field. This is just normal in a match decided by penalties. We had over 200 million watching the game and supporting us. The team are prepared emotionally for what comes our way.
'If you play the World Cup in your own country you have to be well prepared. We are. Everybody is confident. Nobody is worried.'
The winners of today's games will meet in one semi-final with Belgium playing Argentina in Saturday's first game for a place in the other.
If earlier games in this tournament are anything to go by, the Europe/South America clash in Brasilia should have no shortage of players willing to run at and take an opponent on.
'Argentina have done well, but they have one big player who can make the difference every game. If we can stop him, we have a chance but it will not be easy,' are quotes from Eden Hazard as he aims to progress further in his first World Cup.
'I haven't played against [Lionel] Messi before and I will think about it the night before but once I am on the pitch, I don't care who I play against. I do what I do, but I try to do my best.'
Indeed Hazard's team-mates are looking towards the Chelsea man to be their inspiration against Argentina.
'Hey, we've got Eden,' pointed out Everton's Kevin Mirallas when asked about his opponent's star man. 'You can't compare him with Messi or Ronaldo, but he is still something special.'
Hazard and Thibaut Courtois seem certain to start the game for Belgium and as with Andre Schurrle, Romelu Lukaku gave his chances of returning to the line-up a boost with his extra-time goal in the last round against the United States.