Could a World Cup semifinal foursome be any more perfect than this?
There are two South American teams and two European teams, traditional soccer powers and superstar players to attract the interest of even the most casual soccer fans. It will be either Germany, Brazil, Argentina or Netherlands to take home the coveted trophy, as Bleacher Report UK noted:
Here is a look at the schedule and broadcast information for the semifinal showdowns and the updated bracket:
|2014 World Cup Semifinals Schedule|
|Date||Time (ET)||Matchup||TV||Live Stream|
|Tuesday, July 8||4 p.m.||Brazil vs. Germany||ESPN||Watch ESPN|
|Wednesday, July 9||4 p.m.||Argentina vs. Netherlands||ESPN||Watch ESPN|
Brazil vs. Germany
For as decorated as these two countries are, they have only met once in the World Cup. Brazil won the 2002 final 2-0, but the two squads come into this matchup with very different mindsets.
For Brazil, the absence of superstar Neymar is hanging over this squad like an ominous cloud, although he did his best to inspire his team, as Bleacher Report noted:
Still, Neymar isn’t the only missing player. Thiago Silva is suspended for the match because of too many yellow cards, which is especially painful because his yellow card in the quarterfinals came on a needless challenge of the goalkeeper on a punt.
It will be difficult for Brazil to find many holes without two of their best players. Making the task even harder is the fact that the German side has looked like a ruthless machine thus far on the defensive end.
Germany did not allow a goal in a dismantling of Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal, pitched a shutout against the United States, held Algeria scoreless until late in extra time when the game was already in hand and held a formidable French attack scoreless in the quarters.
Germany not only pushed back almost every attack, they controlled the ball and their energy in an intelligent fashion in the Brazilian heat.
With the suffocating pressure on the Brazil side to go along with Neymar’s absence, the efficient and always calm Germans may be the perfect team to eliminate the hosts. They will not panic or force the issue early and will be patient as they wait for opportunities to arise.
If Germany seizes on one of those chances early, the pressure may be too much for Brazil to handle.
Argentina vs. Netherlands
Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella had nothing but praise for his leader after another impressive showing in the quarterfinals, via Steven Goff of The Washington Post:
He played a wonderful match because it is not only [about] scoring goals. Every move he makes is a sign of hope. It endangers the opponent. What he does beyond scoring goals, the influence he has on the pitch, is decisive.
While so much of the World Cup discussion has centered on the pressure the host nation is facing, Messi is dealing with the expectations of an entire country himself brilliantly. Still, Argentina won’t have a healthy Angel Di Maria to help on the attack and with crosses, so Messi may need to be even more aggressive against the Netherlands in this matchup.
Aggression from the opponent will be a foreign concept to Netherlands after their victory over Costa Rica.
If Netherlands hopes to top Messi and company, they will have to take advantage of their chances much more effectively than they did in the quarterfinals. That game went into penalty shootouts tied at zero, but Netherlands possessed the ball for nearly the entire game and simply fumbled away numerous chances in front of the goal.
Fortunately for their sakes, they came through against Costa Rica in the clutch in the penalties behind substitute goalie Tim Krul.
However, Argentina simply won’t sit back and hope for penalties and extra time like the significant underdog Costa Rica did. That could be a problem for Netherlands if they fail to capitalize on their chances this time around.
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