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World Cup: Ticket tout probe opens ahead of quarter-final drama

As France and Germany prepare to serve up the first dish of a mouth-watering World Cup quarter-final menu, a ticket tout inquiry continues Thursday with Brazil's 2002 title winner Ronaldinho's brother one of those wanted for questioning.

RIO DE JANEIRO: As France and Germany prepare to serve up the first dish of a mouth-watering World Cup quarter-final menu, a ticket tout inquiry continues Thursday with Brazil's 2002 title winner Ronaldinho's brother one of those wanted for questioning.

Brazilian authorities are investigating whether members of the Brazilian, Argentine and Spanish football federations were involved in the illegal sale of World Cup tickets after police dismantled a scalping gang.

The brother and agent of Ronaldinho, Roberto de Assis Moreira, will be questioned in the case, though he is not under investigation, said Marcos Kac, the Rio de Janeiro prosecutor.

The probe comes as the 2014 World Cup prepares to enter its gripping concluding stage.

Rio's iconic Maracana stadium is the fitting backdrop for Friday's meeting of the two European powerhouses, with France falling to Germany in the semi-finals at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups.

The victor will face either hosts Brazil, or one of the sensations of the tournament Colombia, who clash in Friday's second quarter-final in Fortaleza.

The last eight drama continues Saturday with Argentina facing Belgium and the Netherlands up against minnows Costa Rica.

History hangs heavy over the encounter as it evokes memories of the '82 semi-final which Germany won 5-4 on penalties after a dramatic 3-3 extra-time draw.

The 'Tragedy of Seville' attained notoriety when Germany keeper Harald Schumacher shoulder-charged Patrick Battiston, leaving the Frenchman unconscious on the ground.

Under 1998 World Cup winning captain Didier Deschamps Les Bleus have firmly left behind the miserably chaotic last World Cup campaign in South Africa.

"Didier Deschamps has turned France around since 2010 and we're looking forward to another classic," said his German opposite number Joachim Loew.

A cluster of former German captains have queued up to attack Loew's selections with playmaker Mesut Ozil struggling and centre-backs Jerome Boateng and Benedikt Hoewedes being played out of position as wing-backs.

"That was the worst performance for years," Michael Ballack reflected after the 2-1 extra time last 16 win over Algeria, while Oliver Kahn was equally unimpressed: "This line-up isn't working any more".

Five hours after the match at the Maracana, up the coast in Fortaleza, talismanic striker Neymar and company will have 200 million Brazilian hearts fluttering again as they embark on the latest step of a journey they pray will lead to a sixth world title and first since 2002.

Neymar shrugged off criticism at the way Luiz Felipe Scolari's side had eschewed their famed 'jogo bonito' (beautiful game) for a more prosaic style.

"You can't always enjoy yourself and win 4-0 or 5-0. Football nowadays is so difficult, so even, that the team who is the most committed on the pitch ends up winning," said the Barcelona star on Wednesday.

"I don't want a show. That's the last thing we are trying to do. We are not necessarily here to produce a spectacle. We are here to run to the end, until we are tired, and come out as winners," the scorer of four of Brazil's goals added.

In their first ever World Cup quarter-finals, Colombia have only beaten Brazil twice in 26 meetings.

But ahead of the biggest game in their footballing history tournament, topscorer James Rodriguez suggested Brazil should be just as worried about him as his countrymen should be about Neymar.

"We're facing a very tough rival, which has great players, but they also have to think that we have great players," said the Monaco playmaker.

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