The first semifinal of the 2014 FIFA World Cup was nothing short of a debacle for the hosts Brazil. That term hardly does justice to what transpired for the Selecao, as Germany blitzed Brazil with five goals in the first 30 minutes, advancing to the final with ease by a score of 7-1.
Neymar's absence due to a fractured vertebra, along with captain Thiago Silva's suspension, subtracted too much from Brazil's side for the home hopefuls to have any chance at further World Cup glory. Adding further insult to injury, Miroslav Klose passed a Brazilian legend in Ronaldo for the all-time goals mark in this acclaimed international tournament:
Ronaldo himself chimed in as to what went wrong for his native team, per Jack Lang of the Daily Mirror:
Ronaldo: "This is really bad. The players are reeling, but it all started with #BRA's tactical set-up."— Jack Lang (@snap_kaka_pop) July 8, 2014
Credit Germany for capitalizing on an ideal situation, but also for executing flawlessly on the attack to demoralize a disoriented Brazil that looked lost without Silva leading the defensive effort.
The Daily Telegraph's Henry Winter felt no combination of any semifinalist could topple Germany on Tuesday:
Now take a look at the updated fixture information after Day 27, along with a brief look ahead at the second semifinal between Argentina and the Netherlands.
Note: Statistics and information are courtesy of FIFA.com unless otherwise indicated.
|Brazil vs. Germany||Tuesday, July 8||4 p.m.||ESPN||Germany 7, Brazil 1|
|Netherlands vs. Argentina||Wednesday, July 9||4 p.m.||ESPN||TBD|
Netherlands vs. Argentina Preview
The Argentina attack will be counting as much on Lionel Messi as ever without the services of winger Angel Di Maria, who is sidelined with a thigh injury. Messi is like Brazil's Neymar, so at least La Albiceleste has the benefit of their best player eager to prove himself on the World Cup stage.
Dutch manager Louis van Gaal discussed how his side is approaching the match and how it pertains to Messi's legacy, per The Guardian's Owen Gibson:
We are playing against Argentina. We always refer to teams and not individual players. We have a plan ready for Argentina. [...] If you score so many goals, you have an added value. At the most important stage [Messi] can always pull it off.
[...] In principle he’s always found it difficult to show that at international level. He wants to do that at this tournament and we want to stop him doing that, so that’s going to be quite a challenge.
The report also mentions that Dutch star scorer Robin van Persie has a stomach bug that could impact his play in the semifinal. That will hinder Van Gaal's flexibility in manufacturing goals. Overcoming that is tough, because Oranje couldn't score in regulation or extra time before a gritty shootout victory over Costa Rica in the quarterfinals.
The Netherlands figure to have an edge in possession thanks to an edge in the midfield created by Di Maria's absence. Holland sport the likes of Daley Blind, who can shut down Argentina's offense before it gathers form and help Wesley Sneijder's efforts to lead the counterattack.
Who will win the 2014 FIFA World Cup?
Van Gaal's Netherlands squad has been more dominant, as opposed to the one-goal margins Argentina have continued to win by. In the end, though, that accumulated weathering of adversity, combined with Messi's heroics, will be enough to push Argentina to the final in a far more even match than the first semifinal.
How hard it must be for Brazil to recover for a third-place consolation match. Even the team that loses the second semifinal should be able to secure third place, but the Dutch will be hurt to have made another deep run and fall short after losing the 2010 final to Spain.
Should Argentina indeed pull through, their task ahead is tall. In light of how well Germany played in the semifinal, they look unstoppable and poised to win the World Cup. With that incredible performance, though, comes raised expectations. If Messi and Co. barely advance yet again, Argentina will enter as underdogs and thus have a lot of support in pursuit of their first World Cup title since 1986.
Prediction: Argentina 2, Netherlands 1