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It’s Barça v Barça not once but twice this Friday. Uruguay v France means Luis Suárez v Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembélé, while Brazil v Belgium pits Paulinho and Philippe Coutinho against Thomas Vermaelen.

With these four nations all on the same side of the draw, it means we are guaranteed another all-Barça match-up in the semis and the presence of at least one of our boys in the grand final – very possibly against Ivan Rakitic’s Croatia, the only side on the other half with a Barça representative.

El Celeste v Les Bleus

Uruguay are one of just two teams to have won all four games in regulation time to reach the quarter finals, and Suárez has scored two goals along the way.

But 1998 champions France, fresh from defeating Argentina 4-3 in possibly the most thrilling game of the tournament so far, might pose the toughest challenge yet to a side with two World Cups to their name – although many Uruguayans maintain that the 1924 and 1928 Olympic titles also count, hence the four stars on the famous sky blue jersey.

Uruguay beat France 2-1 when they met at the 1966 World Cup, and since then they have met five times (including the 2002 and 2010 World Cups) and those games have produced the not-so-grand total of one goal.

With the firepower that both sides have to offer these days, hopefully we can expect to see a bit more goalscoring action on Friday!

Canarinha v Red Devils

Belgium are the other team that’s won every game in regulation time, although that doesn’t mean they’ve been cruising. To beat Japan, they had to come from two goals down, something that hadn’t happened in the knockout stages of a World Cup since Portugal’s dramatic 5-3 defeat of North Korea in 1966.

Unbeaten in 23 matches, we’ve been saying ‘look out for Belgium’ at major tournaments for some time. Is this the year that they finally turn all that potential into silverware?

But there’s nothing unusual about Brazil being among the favourites. Chasing an incredible sixth world crown, they’ve been on clinical form since a minor hiccup against Switzerland in their opening match, with Coutinho and Paulinho both contributing goals along the way.

The sides have only met once before in the World Cup, in the last 16 of 2002. In Belgium they still remember that disallowed Marc Wilmots goal before eventual champions went on to win 2-0, with former Barça man Rivaldo among the scorers.

A chance for Belgian revenge, or will Brazil continue their relentless march across Russia?

Let’s see your predictions…

 
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