Monday, July 7, 2014 10:09 am
Germany would be out to avenge the 2002 final defeat tonight when coming up against hosts and five-time champions Brazil in Belo-Horizonte for a place in the 2014 World Cup final.
With eight titles between the two, the World Cup’s most successful nations will only be meeting for the second time ever at the mundial after a second half brace by Ronaldo gave Brazil a 2-0 victory in 2002.
Brazil have made the semi-final stage for the fourth time in six World Cups and head into the match having gone on to the final in the three previous occasions (1994, 1998, 2002) they made the last four.
Germany meanwhile will be playing in a record fourth successive World Cup semi-final on Tuesday, but have won only one of their previous three semi-final appearances.
Beating Germany in the knockout stage of the last three World Cups has meant going on to lift the trophy for the conquering team, with Brazil beating the Germans in the 2002 final while Italy and Spain went on to win the title afterwards in 2006 and 2010.
That record is what Germany coach Joachim Löw and his present set of players would be aiming to end, starting with the uphill task of overcoming the host nation in the semis here.
That task was seeemingly made less uphill when Brazil’s talisman Neymar suffered a broken vertebra late in the quarterfinal win over Colombia, an injury which has ruled him out of the World Cup.
Neymar had been instrumental to Brazil’s run to the last four, putting in good displays to score four goals along the way and provide an assist in the win over Colombia.
That assist was converted by captain Thiago Silva who however will also miss the semi-final match through suspension, leaving Brazil are at their most vulnerable since the start of the mundial.
Playmaker Oscar and goalkeeper Julio Cesar would be relied on to inspire the Selaçao to victory while eyes will be on the look out for who coach Luiz Felipe Scolari would pick to replace the injured Neymar for the semi-final match.
Shakhtar Donetsk youngster Bernard or Chelsea midfielder Willian are the likely options to be called in to the starting line-up for Neymar while Bayern Munich defender Dante will pair David Luiz at centre back in place of Silva.
Ahead of the match, Bernard stated that Neymar’s loss is a big blow for Brazil but nonetheless believes their is still enough quality to see off Germany for a place in the final.
”We go into this game like we’ve already been going into games, looking at the opponents and looking to overcome these barriers with Neymar’s injury.” said the 21 year old.
He added that ”we are going to believe until the end because we know that he have the qualities to be able to pass through to the final and to be able to be champions.”
And Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger also believes Brazil would be inspired to do well for their injured star going into the semi-final clash.
”It is always better when the opponent have all their best players, besides it’ll bring the team together and they’ll want to win the title for him” Schweinsteiger said.
The Bayern midfielder however added a note of caution to the match officials, stating ”The Brazilians here aren’t the magicians of old, the team has changed and so has their playing style. Hard challenges are definitely a part of their game, it’s something we have to be careful of and the referee too.”
For the match, Germany’s main source of threat would be Thomas Müller who has four goals and two assists to his name so far while Andre Schürrle looks set to make Joachim Löw’s starting line-up ahead of Mario Götze and Miroslav Klose.
Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker could make a return to the starting line-up for Germany and pair at centre-back with Mats Hummels while Benedikt Howedes or Jerome Boateng could be moved to right back as a result.
For Brazil, Dani Alves will make a return at right-back after sitting out the quarter-final win over Colombia through suspension while upfront, the onus falls on Fred to add to his lone goal so far at the mundial.
Probable Brazil XI
Julio Cesar – Dani Alves, David Luiz, Dante. Marcelo – Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho – Hulk, Oscar, Bernard – Fred.
Probably Germany XI
Manuel Neuer – Benedikt Howedes, Per Mertesacker, Mats Hummels, Philipp Lahm – Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos – Thomas Müller, Mesut Özil, Andre Schürrle.