With just four fixtures remaining, it's hard to believe the 2014 World Cup is almost in the books. The two semi-finals will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday. They will be followed by the third-place match on Saturday and the big cup final on Sunday.
The full coverage information has already been made available, so read on for a breakdown of where to watch each match (including on mobile devices) and a preview of the two semi-finals.
|Date||Time (BST)||Time (ET)||Match||TV Info||Live Stream|
|July 8||9 p.m.||4 p.m.||Brazil vs. Germany||ESPN/BBC1||WatchESPN/BBC iPlayer|
|July 9||9 p.m.||4 p.m.||Netherlands vs. Argentina||ESPN/ITV||WatchESPN/ITV Player|
|July 12||9 p.m.||4 p.m.||3rd place play-off||ESPN/ITV||WatchESPN/ITV Player|
|July 13||8 p.m.||3 p.m.||Final||ABC/ITV/BBC1||WatchESPN/ITV Player/BBC iPlayer|
Brazil vs. Germany
Key Tactical Battle: Germany's free-flowing attack vs. the absence of Thiago Silva.
The hosts will be without star striker Neymar, who had to leave the pitch during their quarter-final win over Colombia with an injury. But the Selecao's best scoring option might not even be the team's biggest loss.
Via SportsCenter, captain and star defender Silva's appeal to have his suspension overturned was denied:
BREAKING: FIFA denies Brazil capt. Thiago Silva's yellow card suspension appeal. He will miss semifinal vs. Germany. pic.twitter.com/PKAVBurmPc— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 7, 2014
The veteran defender will most likely be replaced by Bayern Munich's Dante, and Jerome Boateng thinks it could be both an advantage and disadvantage for Die Mannschaft, via Selecao Brasileira:
Boateng: "Dante playing will be an advantage and a disadvantage for both sides, because just like he knows us well, we know him well too."— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStats) July 8, 2014
Dante is a fine defender, but he's no Silva. The latter is responsible for organising the entire back four, and he acts as a vocal and emotional leader on the pitch.
For all of his athletic gifts, it's his high football IQ that sets him apart. Against Germany's attacking unit based around the constant movement of midfielders and wingers, his vision would have been a big asset.
Thomas Mueller has been Germany's most dangerous forward, and like his teammates, he is anything but conventional. Dante knows Mueller all too well, but whether he's able to handle his style of play on this big a stage is something we won't find out until Tuesday night.
Netherlands vs. Argentina
Key Tactical Battle: Lionel Messi's runs vs. the Dutch central midfield.
When Kevin Strootman went down with injury early in the year, many fans and pundits were ready to write off the Dutch team for this year's World Cup. Louis van Gaal found a way to deal with his loss, aided by the sensational form of Nigel de Jong.
Via AFP's Tom Williams, the midfielder is in line to make a sensational recovery from the injury that forced him off the pitch against Mexico, and he could perhaps be ready to start against Argentina:
Nigel de Jong training with Holland this morning. Huge boost for them if he's fit for tomorrow.— Tom Williams (@tomwfootball) July 8, 2014
De Jong's return to the starting XI would be huge for the Dutch, whose struggles with marauding runs down the centre of the pitch were badly exposed in their quarter-final win over Costa Rica.
Without both Strootman and De Jong, the Netherlands are short on enforcers who can play in front of the defence. Van Gaal has been consistently excellent in tinkering with his formations, but the Albiceleste will be his biggest test yet.
Messi has (unsurprisingly) been the team's most consistent performer, and against Belgium, he was phenomenal playing in a slightly deeper role in the middle. He had tons of space to work with, both running the ball and passing to not-so-open teammates, like this beauty, via Football_Tweet:
Stopping Argentina is about more than just stopping Messi, but it's a good place to start. If De Jong doesn't return in time or is at less than 100 percent, how Van Gaal decides to lock down the centre of the pitch will be key for the outcome of this match.