Brazil v Germany

WCSemisBrazil have struggled to cope with the expectation of a nation, Germany have excelled only in short spells, Argentina are supposedly over-reliant on Lionel Messi and the Netherlands required an unlikely goalkeeping intervention to beat Costa Rica.

But those four sides – despite plenty of scares along the way – are the ones left standing at the semi-final stage of the 2014 Fifa World Cup.

How do the teams rate? Which factors will determine who competes in the final in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday? And, most importantly of all, who will win?

Brazil v Germany (Tuesday, 8 July)

Brazil v GermanyBrazil and Germany meet for only the second time in the World Cup when they face each other in the semi-final in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday.

The only other occasion was in the 2002 final at Yokohama in Japan – Ronaldo inspiring Brazil to a 2-0 win – and the prized place at the Maracana next Sunday is at stake.

Luiz Felipe Scolari was the coach behind that Brazil win – but can Joachim Low’s Germany spoil his hopes of a historic second triumph and this nation’s burning desire for a sixth World Cup?

Brazil

Brazil’s World Cup has been something of a slow-burner, but for the first hour of their quarter-final win against Colombia in Fortaleza they showed the sort of verve – mixed with physical determination – that finally justified their status as tournament favourites.

Scolari has been using psychologist Regina Brandao, a move that has not been unanimously well-received, notably by legends such as 1970 World Cup-winning captain Carlos Alberto, but he may need her now more than ever.

The tournament-ending injury to Neymar has driven at the very heart of Brazil’s hopes of winning the World Cup and Scolari must hope his absence, along with suspended captain Thiago Silva, does not have an impact on the spirit and momentum that has been slowly building both among the team and the mass support willing them on towards the final.

BBC Sport pundit Chris Waddle claims Brazil would be “the worst team to win a World Cup” if they do triumph and it is true to say they have not convinced so far but every step they take they will surely feel it is their destiny.

Brazil had good fortune with decisions in their opener against Croatia, failed to beat Mexico in the group and needed penalties to beat Chile in the last 16.

Against Colombia, however, there were signs that the pieces may be coming together and the fervent home support gives them a vital edge.

Key facts

Brazil have advanced to the final in each of their last six appearances in the final four
Germany are the first country to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup in four consecutive tournaments.
This will be only the second meeting between these two nations at the World Cup.

Germany

Germany, as ever and in whatever guise, are getting the job done. The workmanlike win against France sent them into their fourth successive World Cup semi-final.

Joachim Low’s side has displayed all its many facets at this World Cup – from attacking variety through to occasional defensive vulnerability – but they will really sense the prize is in sight now and that they can become the first European team to win the trophy on South American soil.

Germany may need to tighten up a little at the back and they will be helped by the businesslike approach of coach Low, who believes his side must secure success to back up the praise they have received for their progress together as a squad.

World Cup 2014: France 0-1 Germany highlights

Low says: “We have no titles yet as a team. Titles are marvellous and our players, mainly from Bayern Munich, have already won many. That is important for them, something special, but for us first and foremost it is a matter of playing the semi-final, which is going to be difficult.”

They have graced this World Cup in wonderful games against Ghana and Algeria – the old cliche about German efficiency is an insult to the ability shown in this tournament – but now they must take the final step.

Germany may have kept more clean sheets than any other team at this World Cup, three, but do not mistake that for a dour approach.

Recent matches

24 Jul 1999 – Brazil 4-0 Germany- Fifa Confederations Cup Group, Estadio Jalisco, Guadalajara
30 Jun 2002 – Brazil 2-0 Germany- 2002 Fifa World Cup Final, International Stadium, Yokohama
7 Sep 2004 – Germany 1-1 Brazil- International, Berlin
25 Jun 2005 – Germany 2-3 Brazil- Fifa Confederations Cup semi-final, Frankenstadion, Nuremberg
10 Aug 2011 – Germany 3-2 Brazil- International, Mercedes-Benz Arena

Why Brazil can win

The force of nature that is Brazil’s support means they have been riding a wave of emotion towards what they believe is the ultimate triumph – winning a World Cup in their own country.

To be present at Brazil’s quarter-final win against Colombia in Fortaleza was to witness an atmosphere almost unmatched in the sport. The Estadio Casteloa was decorated with thousands of yellow Brazil shirts and embellished by a deafening noise that swept around the arena at the slightest encouragement.

David Luiz's winning free-kick sent Brazil through to the semi-finals
David Luiz’s winning free-kick sent Brazil through to the semi-finals

This Brazil team may not be one of the best to have graced the famous shirts but the fanatical support remains undimmed. It could carry these players to glory.

Brazil have been robbed of the injured Neymar but in Hulk they had a player who looked like he was ready to come to this World Cup party against Colombia and the return of the unsung Luiz Gustavo in midfield will provide a blanket of security for an occasionally vulnerable defence.

In Dante, they have an experienced defender to come in for Thiago Silva – but it is the backing of the Brazilian nation that may yet be their most potent weapon.

Why Germany can win

The simple answer to this could be because Germany do – often.

In this instance, they can call on a group of match-hardened players who are unlikely to be easily unsettled by the atmosphere that will engulf them in Belo Horizonte. They also have many of the Bayern Munich side who have enjoyed success in the Champions League.

If anything, they may rise to the occasion and in goalkeeper Manuel Neuer they have the finest exponent of his art in the world.

Neuer’s save from Karim Benzema in the closing moments of the quarter-final win against France illustrated the barrier Brazil must breach. He made it look deceptively simple and yet it was a demonstration of magnificent reflexes, the ball moving so fast many observers thought it had struck the

Source BBC

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