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The last three weeks have provided a consistent narrative of fast, attacking football and excitement - exactly as the game's rulers would have imagined it when they handed the tournament to Brazil. Even the line-up for the last eight has a balance that brings pleasure to the purists, as four teams from the Americas are complimented by a quartet from Europe - all of them group winners. The destiny of this World Cup will be decided in the iconic surroundings of the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday week but all quarter-finalists have the opportunity to show where the balance of power lies between the two continents. The seven World Cups held here in the Americas have failed to produce a European winner. On the flip side, Brazil are the only nation from the Americas to achieve a win on European soil - when they triumphed 5-2 in the final against hosts Sweden 56 years ago. So for Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal, France's Didier Deschamps, Germany's Joachim Low and the Belgian Marc Wilmots there is the dual opportunity to make history for their countries and exert European domination. For the likes of Luiz Felipe Scolari, attempting to win his second World Cup with Brazil, and Argentina's Alejandro Sabella in particular, there is the chance to send Europe home empty-handed once more.

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