Four semi-finalists, one dream: winning the World Cup.
Either Brazil, Germany, Argentina or the Netherlands will lift the famous trophy on July 13, but having the chance to do so means emerging through the semi-finals.
With two mouth-watering ties coming up on Tuesday and Wednesday, we take a look at the match odds and assess how the drama could unfold.
|Matchup||Home Win||Draw||Away Win||Prediction||Live Stream|
|Brazil vs. Germany||46-25||113-50||89-50||0-1||BBC iPlayer (U.K.) / ESPN Player (U.S.)|
|Netherlands vs. Argentina||229-100||11-5||37-25||1-2||ITV Player (U.K.) / ESPN Player (U.S.)|
How Will Brazil Cope Without Neymar?
Though the host nation haven’t convinced too many people of their trophy-winning credentials, they’ve certainly improved with every performance at the World Cup.
Behind their road to the last four has been their star forward, Neymar, whose four goals and electric performances have driven Brazil toward their dream.
However, the 22-year-old suffered a fractured vertebra in the 2-1 victory over Colombia and will play no further part in the tournament—as BBC Sport reported:
Though Brazil’s first concern will be making sure their poster boy is well, they know that their chances of World Cup glory will be lessened in his absence.
Manager Luiz Felipe Scolari echoed such a sentiment recently, saying that it’s the worst possible time to lose their star man—per The Guardian:
“Neymar was our benchmark, one of our references because he is a player who makes a difference in any team. We’re in a situation where we’ve lost something we don’t want to miss, especially for the semi-final and final.”
Joining Neymar on the absentee list will be captain Thiago Silva, whose caution in the quarter-final will rule him out through suspension.
Arguably Brazil’s best players, Neymar and Silva will be sorely missed against the Germans, and Robbie Savage believes that the hosts’ dream could be coming to an end without them:
Feel sorry for Brazil and neymar , his goals and flare added to silva being suspended against Germans will mean they will prob go out— Robbie Savage (@RobbieSavage8) July 5, 2014
Savage may well have a case, as playing against Germany is tough even with a full-strength side.
Joachim Low’s men disposed of France in the last round 1-0, meaning that they’ve now kept four clean sheets out of five in normal time in the tournament.
Without Neymar’s attacking brilliance to worry about, the Germans are looking good to make it five out of six in Belo Horizonte and could scrape to a narrow victory.
Prediction: Brazil 0-1 Germany
Netherlands Needing Big Step Up Against Argentina
The Dutch were arguably the team of the group stage in Brazil, defeating Spain, Australia and Chile without really breaking a sweat.
However, the knockout rounds have been very different for Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands, who scraped past Mexico and Costa Rica to book their place in the last four.
On a frustrating evening for the Netherlands, the ball just didn’t seem to want to go in the back of the Costa Ricans’ net, and were it not for goalkeeper Tim Krul’s heroics in the penalty shootout, the Dutch could have been on their way home.
Argentina won’t let the Dutch off the hook quite as much as Costa Rica in the semi-finals, and Dirk Kuyt said that his side need to improve on the finishing front on Wednesday to stand any chance of reaching the final—per FIFA.com:
We created so many chances and normally our strikers only need one chance to score. But sometimes it just doesn’t happen in football. The best thing about tonight is that we never gave up; not during extra time and not at the penalties. We survived today and we’re in the semi-finals. In the next match we have to finish our chances.
As Kuyt says, the Netherlands’ tenacity and never-say-die attitude has been the defining feature of their tournament so far, and they’ll need to show it yet again against the highly rated Argentinians.
A 1-0 victory over Belgium was good enough to see Alejandro Sabella’s side into to semi-finals, backing up their tag as champions-elect with a solid performance.
Lionel Messi was once again at the heart of everything dangerous going forward for Argentina and Netherlands will have to do a better job than the Belgians at keeping tabs on him on Wednesday.
It’s all set to be another tight match in Sao Paulo, but with Argentina’s front line not needing a second invitation to take their chances, the South Americans may just have the edge.
Prediction: Netherlands 1-2 Argentina