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World Cup 2014-The Semi Finals

World Cup 2014-The Semi Finals

Brazil v Germany

Brazil are two victories away from winning the World Cup for a sixth time, but they’ll have to do it without talisman and face of the nation Neymar. The undoubted star of the team injured his back in the quarter-final against Colombia and despite some reports suggesting he’ll take an injection to play in the final - is very unlikely to be seen on the field again this summer.

The host nation kicked and harried their way into the final four against a frustrated Colombia team who struggled to overcome the dogged Brazilian play. It wasn’t easy on the eye, a world away from the samba football Brazil is more accustomed to playing, but it got the job done and in Big Phil Scolari’s eyes that’s all that mattered.

Scolari’s men now face a stern test against Germany, made infinitely more difficult with the absent Barcelona attacker. He’ll have to rely on the misfiring Fred for goals, something the Fluminense striker hasn’t provided so far in the World Cup. Not only have Brazil struggled up front, the players around Fred have been hugely inconsistent - none more so than Zenit St Petersburg forward Hulk. The powerful attacker is capable of popping up with a goal but lacks so much of the guile, creativity and magic that Neymar can provide at any instant.

Germany and Joachim Low will have been lifted by the Neymar news, but they too have some question marks in attacking positions. Thomas Mueller’s goals have dried up since the group stage and they relied on a defender’s header to get past France in the quarter-final. Miroslav Klose started in that game as he chases the all-time goalscoring record in World Cups, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him start again and aim to break Ronaldo’s record against his own Brazil.

Philip Lahm’s switch back to full back helped Germany control the game against France. They are clearly more efficient when the captain is at his booked position at right back, which allows Samir Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger to control affairs in midfield.

If the Germans can win the midfield battle and do to Brazil what Brazil did to Colombia and control the game as they did against France, one would fancy Germany to go through to the final. Brazil have had the more difficult run to the final and it may catch up with them in Belo Horizonte tonight.

Netherlands v Argentina
The Netherlands became World Cup supervillains when they mercilessly dumped Costa Rica out of the competition on penalties. Louis van Gaal brought on Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul with a minute to go in extra time after the Costa Ricans had battled bravely for 120 minutes. If that didn’t get into the players’ heads, Krul pacing around the box and confronting the players prior to their kicks certainly did.

The substitute paid off and Krul saved two penalties while guessing the correct way for all five. Louis van Gaal is now the managerial genius of the World Cup. But let’s see if he can find a way to stopping the player genius of the World Cup – Lionel Messi.

Argentina beat Belgium in the quarter- finals, never looking too threatened in their 1-0 victory. The Argentinians, similarly to Germany, lead for nearly all of the game when Gonzalo Higuain popped up with a fine finish and his first goal of the tournament in the 8th minute.

Holland had less success in front of Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who was outstanding between the sticks. If Argentina can keep Arjen Robben on a leash then they will nullify much of the Dutch attack as the Bayern winger has been Holland’s only consistent attacking threat in the tournament.

Likewise, Holland must try and put a stop to Lionel Messi. The tireless Dirk Kuyt might be charged with keeping tabs on the Barcelona superstar along with defensive midfielder Nigel de Jong. Whoever is given the unenviable task it’ll be a two man job.

This is the strongest attack Holland have faced in the knockout stage and although Angel Di Maria is a huge loss, the return of Sergio Aguero is a huge bonus and he will be determined to find his first goal of the tournament.

The trio of Messi, Higuain and Aguero is nothing like Holland will have faced in the tournament. If the Argentines can stop Arjen Robben and quell the supply to Robin van Persie then Argentina will have their shot at World Cup glory on Brazilian soil – and Lionel Messi will have a shot at finally becoming the greatest ever.

Article By:

Kevin Coleman: www.back

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