There’s a surprise lack of World Cup head-to-head history when it comes to Brazil and Germany, despite the pair's status as international footballing giants.
In fact, the first time these massive footballing nations clashed in the tournament’s history was in the 2002 final—a match remembered for a fine brace from Ronaldo.
Twelve years on, the second chapter in the World Cup rivalry between these two nations is set to be written, as the Selecao and Die Mannschaft lock horns in the semi-final of the 2014 tournament.
Already the football world is hotly anticipating a clash that will inevitably be bristling with spine-tingling tension and drama.
Here’s a rundown of the form of both teams ahead of this one, all the information you need on where to catch the game via an online stream and a look at which of these two international powerhouses are best set to qualify for the final.
Form Guide: Germany WDWD*W (*won in extra time), Brazil WDWD*W (*won on penalties), courtesy of Soccerway.com
Here’s how the two teams are set to line up for this huge contest:
Both of these sides have sampled an almost identical set of results as we stand on the brink of this semi-final, suggesting we’re set for a very evenly matched contest.
The hosts are just two games away from sampling World Cup glory for the sixth time in their illustrious history. But having made it through to the semi-finals on the back of some wonderfully effervescent performances from Neymar, the final suddenly looks a long way off after it was confirmed the Barcelona forward will miss the rest of the tournament because of a back injury.
Subsequently, the Germans have a great chance to topple the hosts, who will also be without their inspirational captain, Thiago Silva, for the last-four showdown. ESPN’s Dermot Corrigan thinks Brazil have a huge task on their hands if they’re to qualify:
Brazil gonna need a lot of help to get past Germany if they're missing both Thiago Silva & Neymar.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) July 4, 2014
Joachim Low’s team have married cohesiveness with astute possession in the tournament so far, and they’ll certainly fancy their chances of silencing the home crowd and making it to yet another World Cup final.
Indeed, this German side showed in earnest exactly what they’re all about against France in the quarter-final. Not too dissimilar to the Spanish team of four years ago, Low’s tactical blueprint is all about staying very compact at the back and dominating the middle of the pitch. And against Les Blues, the Germany boss struck the right balance.
Moving Philipp Lahm to right-back gave the team a much more rounded feel, with the Bayern Munich man’s forays forward considerably more intelligent and astute than the likes of Jerome Boateng when he's played in that position; Boateng is admittedly much more comfortable at centre-back.
It was a view echoed by football writer Graham Ruthven, who was very happy to see Lahm lining up in the German defence:
Philipp Lahm at right back. Hallelujah!— Graham Ruthven (@grahamruthven) July 4, 2014
It’s the midfield where the Germans are most powerful, though, and going up against a likely triumvirate of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira in the middle of the park is an undeniably intimidating prospect for any opponent.
Nonetheless, Brazil will feel they have players who can get in among the Mannschaft midfield men, and their trio of Oscar, Luis Gustavo and Fernandinho have the industry to shunt the rhythm of their opponents.
In wide areas too, the Selecao have the potential to cause problems, especially down the German left where Maicon and Willian can overload Germany left-back Benedikt Howedes, with Mesut Ozil unlikely to track back to provide defensive cover.
Even though Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side will feel as though they can get at this Germany team, the losses of Neymar and Silva will be too big of a blow to compensate for. Without those two key men, suddenly there is apprehension and doubt among the Brazilian supporters and, if the Selecao don’t start the semi-final well, that anxiousness could manifest itself in the crowd and subsequently transmit to the players.
Who will progress to the World Cup final?
This Germany team is rife with winning mentality and, although they have been far from formidable themselves throughout the course of this World Cup, there are players in Low’s team that not only know how to get through big games, but raise their performance levels in them.
Expect the Selecao to play with a renewed industry, but without the enforcing presence of Silva at the back and the mercurial ingenuity of Neymar at the sharp end of the pitch, they won’t have enough to best this imposing Germany team.
Prediction: Brazil 0-1 Germany