Neymar, James Rodriguez

Brazil and Neymar, left, will face Colombia and James Rodriguez in a World Cup quarterfinal Friday. (JUAN MABROMATA/PEDRO UGARTE / AFP/Getty Images / June 30, 2014)

Yesterday in one sentence: The gaps in the World Cup schedule, as a very smart person pointed out to me, need to be filled with something, even if it’s MLS games. It was too weird without soccer this week, and now there are more days without it than with it until the end of the World Cup.

What's on tap: France vs. Germany, noon, ESPN2; Brazil vs. Colombia, 4 p.m., ESPN.

What you’ll see: Sure, the United States has been eliminated for days, but seeing these matchups should only make everyone, even on this most patriotic day of days, understand why the United States is out and these teams are in. France and Germany have been the class of the European teams so far, while Brazil and Colombia (with respect to Argentina, which hasn’t looked great) are carrying that mantle for South America.

Both France and Germany had to sweat out close matches against African sides in the round of 16, but both can probably play the style they want to in this match. Given its recent form  and it’s wild to say this with how it handled the United States  Germany’s play has led only to questions about its firepower in recent matches. Take into account the report that a third of the German side is battling the flu, and it’s good news for Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba and a strong, young French team.

The second match will be mostly about whether Brazil can breath (and score) under the expectations the host nation is putting on its team. Brazil needed penalties to get past regional rival Chile, while Colombia literally has danced its way through to the quarterfinal with goals aplenty. Colombia has been the non-American darling of the tournament, with a choreographed dance to go with every goal, and James Rodriguez is scoring plenty of them.

If Brazil can play the free, fun style it has shown glimpses of in the tournament, the hosts have every chance of going through to the semifinal. But the pull of a lovable upstart against the behemoth host nation promises to make this one of the matches of the tournament.

jmeoli@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jonmeoli