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 Posted by Dermot Corrigan
Jul 3, 2014

Cuadrado backs Rodriguez vs. Brazil

A fantastic World Cup performance from James Rodriguez leaves him in the lead in the race for the Golden Boot.

Colombia's Juan Cuadrado says James Rodriguez is "a phenomenon" whose standout performances at the current World Cup have been helped by support from his teammates.

- Horncastle: Cuadrado's beautiful art of deception
- Duarte: Neymar thrives in World Cup storm
- Didonato: How Colombia will play Brazil
- Asprilla: Colombis can beat Brazil 

Monaco playmaker James, 22, has emerged as a global superstar at the tournament -- and is currently top-scorer with five goals in four games, including an exquisite delicate chip in the 4-1 group win over Japan and thunderous swerving volley in the 2-0 last 16 victory over Uruguay.

Fiorentina winger Cuadrado, 26, has also impressed hugely, scoring a penalty against the Japanese, and also providing a tournament-leading four assists -- three of which have laid on goals for his fellow attacking midfielder.

Cuadrado told FIFA that his younger colleague was full of confidence at the moment and could do "something big" in Friday's quarterfinal against Brazil.

"[James] is a great player, a phenomenon as they say here, who brings a lot to the national team," Cuadrado said. "He has shown his style really well. I believe that the support he has from all of his teammates has helped him relax and given him the confidence he needs to show his best. He can do something big in any moment because we know he is a phenomenon."

Brazil's players come into Friday's game in Fortaleza in lower spirits, having faced criticism from many fans and pundits for their performance against Chile in the round of 16.

After the hosts looked short on ideas and inspiration for long periods of that game, before eventually progressing on penalties, it was suggested that the players had played poorly as they were becoming too emotional and hyped up before and during games.

However Selecao midfielder Fernandinho said in El Espectador that the team would be more relaxed against Colombia and look to calmly take advantage of weaknesses in their opponents' lineup.

Brazil are under pressure to perform well on home soil at the 2014 World Cup.

"The emotional state is fine," Fernandinho said. "In the game against Chile everything was very hard. We are relaxed [now]. This week we will work, we will study Colombia well to know their strengths and their weaknesses, to know how to take advantage in the game."

The Manchester City player also admitted that stopping Colombia's in-form midfield duo would be important for Brazil's chances of making the semifinals.

"Colombia play in a typical South American style, with a smile and good touches," Fernandinho said. "James Rodriguez is standing out with his goals and assists. Juan Cuadrado is one of the best on the team, he is charged with starting all their attacks. He has high spirits and is fundamental for the team."

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