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When And Where
4PM ET, Estadio Mineirão, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Last Match: 2-1 win vs Colombia
The big news out of their match against Colombia was Neymar's injury. Colombian defender Juan Zuniga took a careless jump into Neymar, kneeing him square in the back. That knee ended up fracturing a vertebra, ending Neymar's World Cup. The injury is simply devastating news for the Brazilian star, who seemed to be the only player on Brazil creating anything in open play. Both of Brazil's goals came on dead balls, one on a corner and the other from a free kick.
Captain Thiago Silva put a corner in the net in the 7th minute, giving Brazil an early lead. Then in the 69th minute, David Luiz stepped up to take a free kick in a dangerous area. He went for goal and, boy, what a firecracker he unleashed. It helped that Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina was out of position for the goal. He should have been more to his left and trusted the wall to do its job. Instead, he positioned himself too much in the center of the net and was momentarily blinded by his own wall, delaying his reactions on the save. Still though, what a strike by Luiz, who has been Brazil's best player not named Neymar this World Cup. Colombia made it 2-1 on a James Rodriguez penalty kick, but could not find the equalizer. Game, blouses.
Key Player: David Luiz
He has been their best player throughout this tournament for Brazil and now he has two goals to go along with the great defending he has done. He has also moved the ball up the pitch well. Quite simply, he's been everywhere. Now, with Neymar down with an injury and Thiago Silva missing the match due to yellow card accumulation, Luiz is the guy for Brazil against Germany.
Why They Will Win
Neymar was the best offensive player on Brazil and by a wide margin. He seemed to be the only player who had any creative ability. Hulk, Fred, and Oscar have been barely noticeable and most of Brazil's goals have come from dead ball plays. However, with Neymar out, it frees up the ball a bit, as no one else demands the ball like him. The other players can create without looking to set up their best player. And psychologically, a mental weight may have been released. The loss of a star player can do that. Also, that loss can rally the team and bring them together. Brazil will also have the crowd to feed off of. A lot of variables working in their favor. They may be down, but they surely aren't out. And according to FiveThirtyEight, they are still favored to beat Germany. They may not need to tap their heels together three times, but Brazil knows there's no place like home.
Last Match: 1-0 win vs France
Mats Hummels scored an early goal on a perfect header off a free kick. That lone goal proved to be enough. Germany clogged up the midfield and gave the French very little space. It also helped that France seemed content just to stay down a goal, as they had no sense of urgency to tie the score up until about the 80th minute. Too little, too late for Les Bleus.
Key Player: Thomas Müller
He has now went two consecutive matches without a goal. He is a tough player to keep down and without Silva roaming for Brazil, it leaves the back line a little thin, which could spell trouble. Give Müller an extra second with the ball and he'll make you pay.
Why They Will Win
This is Germany's 4th straight semifinal. In the previous three trips, they lost and played in the 3rd place match, something the Germans will surely want to avoid this time around. They have slowly evolved into a more offensive-style of football, one coach Jürgen Klinsmann - yes THAT Jürgen Klinsmann - began instituting in 2004 en route to the 2006 World Cup, which was being hosted in Germany.
Joachim Löw was the assistant under Klinsmann that World Cup and took over as the new German national team manager right after the 2006 World Cup. It's now three solid World Cups under this style of football and it runs like a well-oiled machine. Players like Müller and Özil came up through this system and now Germany are reaping the benefits of a different breed of football. As a nation, they understand how to attack defenses, while still maintaining possession and keeping opposing offenses from moving up the pitch. They are dangerous in the open field and are coordinated on set pieces. This may be the best all-around squad in the world.
Who You Should Root For
Brazil are on the verge of making the World Cup final on home soil. They would be the first host nation to play in the final since France in 1998. What a party our eyes would be witness to if they moved past Germany without Neymar and Silva. These Brazilian players have been scrutinized for their demonstration of emotion, but a win against Germany would treat us to an emotional explosion. And they'll surely be feeding off of the crowd, which should be raucous. No, Brazil are not at full strength, but that would only make it sweeter if they moved on.
Germany wins 1-0
I had Germany pegged to go to the finals when the World Cup started, so I can't back out of that pick now. You would think I would feel better about their chances of moving on with Neymar and Silva out, but I don't. This Brazil team hasn't played great, but without two of their best players, some of the pressure may be gone. Okay, not gone, but at least downgraded. They have the ability now to play more freely and plus, they have the home-field advantage. So, I wouldn't be shocked if a depleted Brazil team mustered another grinding victory.
However, Germany has played tough and has a better roster as well, at the moment at least. Thomas Müller is as creative a forward as there is and Mesut Özil has played better as the World Cup has progressed. Then there's Jérome Boateng to steady their back line. Lastly, the Germans have just seemed like the tactically better team in every match they've played and I can't see the Brazilians scoring much, since they seemingly only score off of free kicks and corners. Especially not against this German team.
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