World Cup Schedule 2014: Full Outlook Heading into Semifinal Round

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVJuly 6, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 04:  Philipp Lahm of Germany acknowledges the fans after defeating France 1-0 in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Quarter Final match between France and Germany at Maracana on July 4, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
Martin Rose/Getty Images

The 2014 World Cup is down to four national teams, and after all of the unpredictable finishes and inspiring stories, only elite nations remain vying for the ultimate prize.

As expected, the host country of Brazil made it through to the final four, disposing of Chile and Colombia. Germany followed suit and will clash with the Brazilians for a spot in the final.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands and Argentina took care of business up until this point despite close finishes being the norm throughout. 

Let's break down everything you need to know for the semifinal round of the World Cup.

2014 World Cup Schedule
DateMatchupTime (ET)TV
Tue., July 8Brazil vs. Germany4 p.m.ESPN
Wed., July 9Netherlands vs. Argentina4 p.m.ESPN
Sat., July 12Third-Place Match4 p.m.ESPN
Sun., July 13Final3 p.m.ABC

Semifinal Matches

Brazil vs. Germany

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL - JULY 04: (L-R) Neymar, Hulk, Oscar David Luiz and Fernandinho of Brazil sing the National Anthem prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Quarter Final match between Brazil and Colombia at Castelao on July 4, 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil.
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

In a battle of World Cup favorites and international heavyweights, Brazil and Germany will battle for the first of two spots in the July 13 final.

Although their meeting may have seemed inevitable heading in, neither side took a simple route to get to the semifinal. Both Brazil and Germany were taken into extra time at some point in an elimination game, and the Brazilians had to pull out one in penalty kicks against Chile. 

But they're here, and that's all that matters. Only, it's not so simple for Brazil.

Late in Brazil's quarterfinal clash with Colombia, Neymar took a knee to the back from Juan Camilo Zuniga and hit the pitch writhing in pain. He was carried off, and it didn't look good.

As ESPN SportsCenter captures, he's out for the rest of the World Cup with a fractured vertebra:

Playing without Neymar was seen as an impossible task heading into the tournament, but that's now a reality for Luiz Felipe Scolari's men. Now, more of the attack will be put on the shoulders of Fred, Oscar and Hulk along with likely replacement Willian. 

It could play a huge part in the semifinal, along with the suspension of Thiago Silva as Darren Fletcher noted:

Even with Neymar, Brazil would have a huge task in stopping the Germans. Joachim Low's side has resembled more of a machine than a football team in this tournament, finding their goal and sitting back with stifling defense.

Brazil struggled to find offense even with Neymar, and his absence causes a myriad of problems for the Brazilian attack. Meanwhile, Germany haven't exactly exploded with offense in recent matches but have done enough to get by.

As Mirror's John Cross noted, though, the crowd will always be on Brazil's side:

Whoever scores the first goal will go a long way in this matchup. Brazil will certainly look to be the aggressors and set the tempo, but they may be unable to take too many chances with Germany's offense posing problems.

Netherlands vs. Argentina

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 05:  Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie of the Netherlands celebrate after defeating Costa Rica in a penalty shootout during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Quarter Final match between the Netherlands and Costa Rica at Arena Fonte No
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Argentina and the Netherlands are set for the other semifinal showdown to decide who plays the winner of Brazil-Germany, guaranteeing a star-studded final no matter which side advances.

Although the matchup between the Dutch and Argentines pegs the two best teams to come out of their half of the bracket, it was a bumpy road for both—especially the Netherlands.

It took two late goals to survive against Mexico in the round of 16. Next up for the Netherlands was a test against World Cup darling Costa Rica, who didn't go quietly.

After a scoreless draw through 120 minutes, Tim Krul was inserted as goalkeeper and saved the day for the Dutch as ESPN FC noted:

The Netherlands couldn't put in any of their dozens of chances, but still survived to reach the semifinals. It will be a major step up in competition, however.

Argentina look formidable at the moment with an impenetrable defense and Lionel Messi heading the attack. Wins over Switzerland and Belgium have put them into the semis with a world of momentum.

Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl noted just how nice it was to see Messi reaching new heights with his national team:

But if either the Dutch or Argentines want to get to the final, they will undoubtedly earn their way there by going through an elite team. 

Martin Meissner/Associated Press

The Netherlands have been here before, looking to capitalize on a veteran-clad roster full of superstar players who all suffered the pain of the 2010 final defeat. Meanwhile, Messi has his eyes on a World Cup title in his home continent—nothing else will be acceptable for the world's best.

Neither team has given up much on the defensive side, but also boasts enough up front to score goals at will. That makes for an interesting dynamic heading into this one, as goals could be scored in bunches or we could see another scoreless draw.

Follow Steven Cook on Twitter.


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