FIFA 2014 World Cup is entering the semi final stages and it is going to be South America v Europe. South American power houses Brazil and Argentina will take on Germany and Netherlands respectively to set up a dream final for millions of football lovers. Samba boys have suffered a huge blow as their inspirational number 10 – Neymar has been ruled out of the tournament. In his absence Selecao will have a tough job in breaking the German wall. Brazil have always been the advocates of Joga Bonito – beautiful football, but in this World Cup they have shown an organized collective effort to progress. Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari’s reinvented tactics will be crucial for Brazil’s aspirations to forget the Maracanazo!
Germany on the other hand are riding high on the back of free a flowing football philosophy adopted by Joaquim Low and his men. Their thrust on the youth set-up in the past decade or so has yielded solid results, and this bunch is capable of replicating the success of 1990. In Thomas Muller, they do have a proven goal scorer and the versatility and flexibility of the whole squad can bamboozle the opponents. In the absence of Neymar, Germany have their task cut out. Now they need to overcome the Brazilian spirit. This match promises some exciting battles even in the absence of Neymar and Brazil captain Thiago Silva.
David Luiz v Thomas Muller
The expectation and the responsibility on the shoulders of David Luiz is much more after the suspension of skipper Thiago Silva. Arguably Brazil’s best defender in this tournament, Luiz has chipped in with two goals at crucial junctures. David Luiz is the cool and composed customer in Brazil defence, who is expected to battle it out with the golden boy of German football. Set-pieces are another weapon in his armory.
Thomas Muller on the other hand has started brightly in this tournament with a hat-trick against Portugal. Even though he hasn’t scored many since then, his all round displays are a menace to the opposition. His movements and well timed runs, and the ability to play across the front four makes him an unpredictable customer to deal with. David Luiz is an attacking defender, if Thomas Muller can exploit the spaces left behind by the Brazilian, Germany can make early inroads in Brazil’s fortress.
Luiz Gustavo v Toni Kroos
The return to action of Luiz Gustavo will be a huge relief for Scolari, especially in the absence of Neymar and Thiago Silva. The absence of captain in central defense means that they are more vulnerable to opposition and it will be the responsibility of Gustavo to provide cover and protect them. Considering the absence of Neymar in attack, Brazil are likely to hand out Marcelo and Dani Alves more attack minded roles. Ergo, defense will be more vulnerable to German attacks, with a set piece specialist like Toni Kroos waiting for an opportunity; Luiz Gustavo needs to nip the Germany attacks in the bud without committing needless fouls.
Germany’s play maker Toni Kroos is very clever on and off the ball. It’s his intelligent reading of the game, which creates the openings for Germany. If Toni Kroos is on song, then Germany will be wrecking havoc in the opposition penalty box. He has the knack of picking out the darting runs behind the defense and to provide them with killer through balls. Considering the attacking approach adopted by Brazilian fullbacks, if Kroos is given space and time on the ball, then he will surely open up Brazilian defence. The return of Luiz Gustavo might help Brazil to keep a check on the proceedings.
Oscar v Schweinsteiger
Oscar is a technically gifted Brazilian footballer. He is mainly used as an attacking midfielder, but in the game against Colombia he underlined his versatility and effectiveness in a deeper role. In the absence of Neymar, the attacking and creative responsibilities will be on the Chelsea play-maker. Oscar is capable of handling the pressure and rising up-to the occasion. He needs to be at his best to guide Brazil beyond the semi-finals against a powerful German midfield.
Bastian Schweinsteiger is the all-action Germany midfielder, who can do the dirty work as well as play a part in Germany’s short passing game. He is the most experienced midfielder in Germany’s ranks and is a pivotal figure in their midfield domination over the opposition so far. He will be assigned with the double task of keeping Oscar quiet and then to initiate attacks. If Bastian Schweinsteiger keeps a hold of things, then it will be difficult to stop Germany taking the upper hand in the semi finals.
Usually Brazil usually go into a match as favourites, but this time, at their own fore, Brazil are perhaps entering a match as underdogs. Germany on the other hand are full of confidence, and have a full strength squad at their disposal. Even though there are some concerns about a flu, which has affected as many as 7 German players, all are expected to play their part in Belo Horizonte.
Brazil took on Germany only once in a FIFA World Cup before. In 2002 when Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Roberto Carlos guided the Selecao to glory. Will there be revenge or deja vu? Only time will tell!