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World Cup Quarterfinals Kick Off Friday

Germany's Miroslav Klose, 2nd from left, stretches during an official training session one day before the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Germany and France at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, July 3, 2014.

The World Cup quarterfinals kick off Friday as European powers Germany and France clash and five-time champion Brazil takes on South American opponent Colombia.

France and Germany, two evenly matched teams, play in the first game in Rio de Janeiro.

The French have beaten Germany in four of their past six matches and have looked like a confident team in this year's World Cup.

Germany has not won a World Cup since East and West Germany were reunified in late 1990. West Germany captured its third World Cup that year.

France won its only World Cup in 1998, narrowly losing to Italy in the finals in 2006. In that game, French superstar Zinedine Zidane was ejected in extra time with the score tied, 1-1, after head-butting an opponent. Italy went on to win in a penalty shootout.

Brazil and Colombia meet later Friday in Fortaleza. The Brazilians have been led in the tournament by their star striker, Neymar, who has four goals. But as a team Brazil has struggled at times.

Colombia has beaten its four World Cup foes by a total score of 11-2. Its goal tally of 11 is the second-highest in the tournament. Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez is the World Cup's leading scorer with five goals.

Brazil last won the World Cup in 2002, while Colombia is in the quarterfinals for the first time.

In the two other quarterfinal games on Saturday, Argentina plays Belgium in Brasilia, and the Netherlands takes on Costa Rica in Salvador.

The championship game is on July 13 in Rio de Janeiro.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.