Brazil were able to get by their continental rivals Colombia on Friday, but not without losing two of their best players. Neymar was kneed in the back by Juan Zuniga and was left with broken vertebrae in his back, which will keep him out the rest of the World Cup. The team’s captain, Thiago Silva, picked up his second yellow card of the tournament and will be forced to sit the semifinal.
Germany will be making their fourth consecutive appearance in the semifinals when they take the field on Tuesday. Even though they have been able to get to this point consistently, they have not gotten past it since reaching the final in 2002. Once there, they lost to … you guessed it: Brazil.
NATIONAL TREASURE: Neymar has been the driving force behind Brazil’s attack all tournament, as the team has struggled to create quality chances without him. Now they will have to do that against a strong German defense. On Saturday, we heard both stadiums chant his name, offering support to their fallen hero. He sent this emotional message which included his belief that Brazil will be World Cup champions.
REPLACEMENTS: Luiz Felipe Scolari will need to find suitable replacements for his two big stars on Tuesday. For Thiago Silva, there is a natural fit with Dante filling in for him at center back. The 30-year-old should be very familiar with the Germans, as he plays with many of them at Bayern Munich. To replace Neymar, Scolari could go in a number of directions. If he wants a like-for-like switch, Big Phil could turn to Bernard, who is a diminutive playmaker that likes to take players on 1 v 1. Scolari could also look at Willian, who is more of a physical presence in the midfield, and could push Oscar even further out wide. Could both start in Belo Horizonte?
Globo saying Bernard & Willian will play for Brazil on Tuesday, which would be excellent in my opinion. Think they'll find some balance now— Sammy Lee (@Sammy_Goal) July 6, 2014
NOT FEELING THE HEAT: Some have criticized the way Germany has played in the World Cup so far. They were expected to be one of the most exciting teams in the tournament with young attacking talent that was first put on display at the 2010 World Cup. In that tournament, Joachim Low and co. failed to reach their ultimate goal, and they have come back in this tournament with a more pragmatic approach. Germany have looked like a team of old, featuring strong defensive posture, timely goals and a results-oriented approach.
SCHWEINSTEIGER MIND GAMES: Brazil actually looked like the “Old Germany” in their game against Colombia on July 4. The Brazilians committed 31 fouls against Colombia, including six against James Rodriguez, something you would not expect from a Brazilian side that is usually the one getting fouled. Bastian Schweinsteiger even said publicly this week that he hopes officials punish the Brazilians for their hard tackling, as they were only issued two yellow cards on Saturday.
YOKOHOMA REMATCH: Despite their storied histories, this will actually be only the second ever matchup of the two teams in the World Cup. The only previous game between Brazil and Germany was in the 2002 World Cup Final, which the Brazilians won 2-0 (on two goals from Ronaldo) to capture their fifth World Cup trophy.
THE STAR YOU KNOW
- Oscar, midfielder, Brazil – His performances have fallen off throughout the course of the tournament, but he will have to be a star against Germany if he wants to play in a World Cup Final.
THE PLAYER WHO WILL SURPRISE YOU
- Sami Khedira, midfielder, Germany – After losing his starting spot for the game against the US, Khedira has been one of the team’s best players over the last 110 minutes. He will have to do battle with a strong Brazilian central midfield.