The first of the upcoming World Cup 2014 semi-finals see host nation, Brazil, go toe-to-toe against the German giants, and will decide the first team to assume centre stage for the final this Sunday evening. Who will leave battered and bruised? Who will be triumphant?
World Cup Semi-Final Preview
With Neymar ruled out of action and Thiago Silva finding a new role warming the bench, following an additional yellow card, Brazil could look in rather odd shape compared to their composition in prior matches. But how about Germany? Coach, Joachim Löw, has presented viewers and fans alike with a variety of strong teams; Germany are undoubtedly a squad in possession of an outstanding, deft eleven to take to the pitch, as well as a trailing queue of super subs. So what should be expected in Belo Horizonte?
Tonight’s fixture will likely be of epic proportions, both as a game with numerous top class players peppered generously about the field, but equally as a grudge match. Fears of mirroring the events of the 2002 World Cup final will surely live with the German side today, but a feisty, extremely experienced team such as themselves could easily snatch the victory, and not fall into the clutches of another dastardly defeat (a 2-0 score awarded Brazil the trophy and accolade of winning the tournament back in 2002). Simultaneously, without 22-year-old golden boy, Neymar Jr., Brazil are bound to be feeling a tad sore, and nervous, about the semi-final. However, Luiz Felipe Scolari, the Brazilian boss with many faces of anguish and terror throughout games, is convinced that Brazil could earn their place in the final without any problems. Even with the goal machine out of the picture, he claims that “[Neymar] has done his share” (FIFA.com, July 2014), and so his yellow-shirted boys will be fine to step up.
Neither team have played exceptionally throughout the tournament, and have clearly conveyed inaccuracy, vulnerability and weaknesses, even in the simplest of areas, such as retaining possession. Managers and assistants will have a troubling time selecting their starting formation, let alone doing so against European and South American heavyweights. Thus, when it comes to cherry-picking their best assets to the team, Löw and Scolari must take a lot into consideration if they intend to secure their place. So, who could be selected that will pose a threat?
For Germany, capable centre-back and goal-scoring extraordinaire, Mats Hummels, has been phenomenal and made a great impact in all of the games he has started in. Meanwhile, fiery-tempered, yet light-footed, Thomas Müller, is omnipresent in the opposing box and hungry for a goal (or two); even more so now, as he approaches the title of leading goal-scorer of the World Cup so far. His position in Bavarian wonder-team, Bayern Munich, has decorated him a great many achievements and so this puts him at the top of the ones-to-watch board. Furthermore, skipper, Philipp Lahm, Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira, and Arsenal player and god of all assists, Mesut Özil, all have enough fire in their stomachs to hit Brazil hard this evening. One should not forget their inextinguishable keeper, Manuel Neuer.
On the other side of the coin, Brazil have curly-mopped David Luiz, who is efficient and apparently not shy from getting stuck into any position, and spritely Chelsea star, Oscar, who is yet to fly any immense balls near to the net, but oozes potential and craft. Further still, with Thiago Silva out of the picture, another from Bayern Munich, Dante, could step into the breach and have his moment in the Brazilian spotlight. Dani Alves and Hulk are also likely stir up the game, whilst betting that Willian (if played) will also give the home side a fighting chance.
With the World Cup being as high octane and bustling with surprises as it has, the game could really go either way this evening. But one thing is for sure; both sides will showcase strength, desire and a breadth of talent, and there will be one phenomenal winner cruising into Sunday’s enormous final.
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