It’s the penultimate round in the biggest sporting event in the world, and the final four are slated to battle Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. Two soccer powers will duel in the first match at 4 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN, with host country Brazil facing Germany.
It seems that everything has fallen into place for the Germans to prevail, with suspensions and injuries creating an even playing field. Many members of each squad are teammates, or rivals during the regular season in Europe, so there is no lack of familiarity between these two squads.
Historically, Brazil owns a 12-4-5 advantage over Germany in 21 bouts between the two. The only other time they played in the World Cup was the 2002 final, a 2-0 victory for the South Americans.
If these two were slated to play when the World Cup began in the group stage, it would be a clear Brazil advantage. But Neymar, who suffered a fractured vertebra in Brazil’s 2-1 victory over Colombia, is out at least three weeks.
“There are two games left and I am sure that my teammates will do everythingpossible so that my dream, which is to be a champion, comes true,” Neymar told Brazil’s soccer website.
And their captain,Thiago Silva was given a red card in the game as well, costing him his opportunity to participate in the semis.
Neymar’s absence creates an offensive void, one that Nate Silver and fivethirtyeight.com have handicapped at .4 goals per game. But more than missing the 22-year-old phenom, the Brazilians will miss the leadership and emotional spark that is Silva.
Germany couldn’t have written a better script.
The Germans move the ball really well. In fact,the team has played 500 more successful passes than anyone else in the competition and more than 1,000 more than Brazil.
The two styles of play couldn’t be more different. Germany plays fundamental, ball-control soccer, while Brazil tries to win at all costs (as can be demonstrated by Silva and company against Colombia). It isn’t your parent’s Brazilian squad, it is a totally different team.
“I am all for hard, clean challenges, but there were one or two tackles which were over the limit,” Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger told the media Sunday after watching Brazil’s win. “The Brazilians aren’t the magicians here of old, the team has changed and so has their playing style.”