Brazil will be at their peak – Pekerman

The hosts may have the burden of expectation on their shoulders before Friday's quarter-final, but the Argentine expects them to shake it off in time for their clash with his side
Colombia coach Jose Pekerman expects Brazil to perform at their best level when the two sides clash in the second World Cup quarter-final on Friday.

The Selecao have been criticised in the local press for their performances at the competition thus far, but particularly after their narrow last-16 victory over Chile, which was only achieved after a penalty shootout.

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Pekerman does not expect the hosts to feel the burden of pressure in Fortaleza, however.

"To progress to the semi-finals is a high leap and this is a defining match because both teams will be at their peak of their performances," he told the media.

"On both sides, we can observe great players, and when you have great players on both sides of the pitch, the match will be interesting and very even."

It has even been suggested in Brazil that the weight of expectation on the hosts makes Colombia favourites to progress, though Pekerman would not back those claims.

"Our team always tries to look ahead," he explained. "For Colombia, each match is a new challenge and a new demanding opponent. So we can't look at the past. We must play our match, in keeping with what we've done. The key is not to feel that there is a favourite. We'll take it as we have taken our matches before."

Colombia have never previously qualified for last eight of the World Cup, and their Argentine coach has admitted that they are trying to build for the future as well as attaining success today.

"We always had great talents [in Colombia] but perhaps we were not able to have consistency," he stated. "In football, you have great teams that stand out because they permanently work. They never relax. Weight of history tells these players to come out onto the field and win.

"They have a winning mentality, firstly because of their talents, and also because of their constant work, and they have a conviction to play at the best level.

"We're on that track – it's a learning curve. We still have a long way to go. I know my players will not keep it at this level and will keep improving."

The South Americans are the only side left at this World Cup to have won all of their matches during the regulation 90 minutes and will be aiming to cause a major upset by eliminating their hosts in Fortaleza.