World Cup 2014 Semi final 1 – Brazil vs Germany 8th July
Tuesday’s semi-final between Brazil and Germany, both 10/11 to qualify, will be only the 2nd time these footballing powerhouses have met in a World Cup – the first being the 2002 final which Brazil won 2-0. Although the game has been billed as a clash of the titans, neither side has yet found entirely convincing form and the game promises to be perhaps the most finely poised of the tournament so far.
Brazil will start the game lacking both star forward Neymar and captain Thiago Silva. Although Neymar’s sickening injury received the more attention, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has publicly stated that he believes the absence of Silva (through suspension) will be the tougher loss. Neymar, who had scored 4 crucial goals thus far in the tournament, had injected much needed positivity, pace and panache to a Brazilian sorely lacking all of those attributes. Chelsea forward Willian will have huge shoes to fill if he, as expected, starts in Neymar’s place. Dante is expected to replace Silva, if the latter’s appeal against suspension fails, though the Bayern Munich man has frequently been overlooked by his national team in favour of David Luiz; whom he will join in central defence.
Germany coach Joachim Low has attempted to put pressure on his opponents and match officials by claiming that Brazil lack their traditional flair and have instead resorted to a physical game characterised by repeated fouls. In what seems like an open message to Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez Low added that ‘it’s up to the referee to come up with the correct punishment’. Germany, who beat France 1-0 in their quarter final, are fortunate enough to be without injured or suspended players and are likely to name an almost unchanged side for their match in the sweltering heat of Belo Horizonte.
Since the 2002 World Cup Germany have scored 15 headed goals, including Hummels’ winner against France, 7 more than any other team. In part this reflects the side’s impressive series of deep runs in the tournament, but also speaks highly of the Germans’ organisation and industry; especially from set pieces. Brazil, on the other hand, have struggled to find the chemistry and creativity which had been a hallmark of their previous successes although their play against Colombia was, at times, excellent and gave some answer to their doubters. However, Tuesday’s game will certainly be their toughest challenge yet as supposed destiny meets cruel football reality.
Two sides packed with talent, yet with much to prove, will battle it out at the Estadio Mineirao with a place in a World Cup final at stake. Tune in at 21:00 BST on Tuesday to witness what likely be an enthralling game.