Europe and South America will go head to head in the 2014 World Cup semi-finals, as hosts Brazil will take on Germany on Tuesday and the Netherlands and Argentina will battle it out a day later.
All four teams have struggled at times during the tournament, but have the talent to justify a spot in the semi-finals, and fans can look forward to two sensational matches between traditional football powerhouses when these teams take to the pitch.
Here's the full updated bracket for the 2014 World Cup, as well as full predictions for both matches:
|2014 World Cup Semi-Final Projections|
Brazil Will Miss Thiago Silva More Than Neymar
Via Selecao Brasileira, the hosts have lodged an appeal with FIFA in an attempt to overturn the suspension for centre-back Silva ahead of the semi-final against Germany:
The chances of said appeal being successful are very low, and the Selecao will be facing Die Mannschaft without their captain and star defender. Bayern Munich's Dante will be his likely replacement, and as far as backups go, he's as solid as they come.
But Silva isn't just any defender—he's the vocal leader of this entire back four, and by far the best centre-back playing the game today. His partnership with David Luiz is a successful one because Silva is such a good in-game coach, and it's that authoritative voice Brazil will miss the most.
Yes, Neymar is by far the team's leading scorer, and Felipe Scolari will have to find a way to replace that production. It won't be easy, but it can be done. Via Selecao Brasileira, legendary striker Ronaldo used the Colombia match as an example:
Germany's defence has looked solid so far, though there are some weaknesses out wide. Mobility is a problem, and it's something Brazil's running midfielders and full-backs could take advantage of.
Die Mannschaft's attack has been quite dominant, however, and it's led by the mercurial Thomas Mueller, who tends to drift all over the attacking third. Discipline and vision are key when defending against Germany, and Silva's vision would have been the back line's biggest asset in this match.
The loss of Neymar is an emotional one, but on the pitch and against such a strong German side, it will be Silva who is missed the most.
Argentina Will Overcome History Against The Netherlands
The Albiceleste already broke a streak when they advanced to the semi-finals for the first time since 1990 against Belgium, and on Wednesday, they'll have some new demons to overcome.
Via OptaJohan, Argentina have only beaten the Dutch once in their last eight tries:
Argentina haven't looked great so far during the tournament, but neither have the Dutch in their last two outings. Mexico were in charge of their match for much of the first half—Costa Rica highlighted some tremendous holes in the Dutch side.
The injury to Nigel de Jong has left the Netherlands short on physical midfielders capable of shielding the back four, and Los Ticos took full advantage of the Dutch's inability to keep up with runs down the centre of the pitch.
Christian Bolanos looked like a veritable superstar charging up the pitch, and he very nearly won his team the match late in extra time. Those marauding runs carrying the ball happens to be what Lionel Messi does best.
The Netherlands will likely choose to employ a more defensive approach against the Albiceleste, but Argentina know how to deal with teams putting nine men behind the ball. And if Gonzalo Higuain's strong showing against Belgium is any indication, the attack might be rounding into form at just the right time.
The Dutch can be lethal when playing the counter-attack, and Arjen Robben has been in the form of his life during the 2014 World Cup. But Argentina's defence looked much improved against Belgium, and Robben's teammates haven't looked as explosive as they did in the group stages.
There are no guarantees in football, but Argentina have a very strong chance of getting past the Netherlands on Wednesday. If they can overcome Louis van Gaal's brilliance and Robben's strong runs, a date at the legendary Maracana will be next for the South Americans.