The two heavily-fancied sides to reach the 2014 World Cup final are one game away from making it happen this week.
On Tuesday hosts Brazil will face Germany in the first semi-final at the Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte. The following day, the Netherlands and Argentina meet at the Arena de São Paulo.
Brazil have come through their knock-out games via a penalty shootout victory over Chile and a 2-1 win against Colombia. The the process they have lost Thiago Silva for their semi-final and Neymar for the rest of the tournament.
Argentina have won all five of their matches by a single goal and are the only nation to have won all five of their matches. They required extra-time to see off Switzerland in the second round before hanging on to a victory over Belgium in their quarter-final. Both by the score of 1-0.
Germany and the Netherlands offer the South American sides their biggest test yet in Brazil.
Brazil vs Germany
Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side scored twice from set pieces before conceding a late penalty in their quarter-final. Thiago Silva converted a corner from close range before David Luiz struck a tremendous free kick.
Brazil also disrupted Colombia’s attacks by fouling both James Rodríguez and Juan Cuadrado whenever they received the ball in the attacking half.
The South Americans could try the same tactics on Thomas Müller but Germany have an abundance of attacking quality at their disposal. All seemingly too much for Brazil’s defence to handle, even more so without Thiago Silva.
Germany haven’t scored as many goals in their recent games as one could expect. With the likes of Miroslav Klose, Toni Kroos, Mario Götze, Lukas Podolski, André Schürrle and Mesut Özil, Brazil could become the victim of a thrashing if they go all-out.
I think Brazil’s dream comes to an end here with Germany being the party poopers.
Netherlands vs Argentina
Since thrashing Spain 5-1, the Netherlands combined score versus Australia, Chile, Mexico and Costa Rica is 7-3. Louis van Gaal’s side haven’t been as impressive since their opener but they have got the job done each time.
The Dutch scored two late goals to beat Mexico and then saw off Costa Rica on a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals, meaning all four semi-finalists have been taken to extra-time once in this tournament.
Argentina have not thrashed any side at all in this competition, winning all five of their games by the single goal. Alejandro Sabella’s side failed to create much at all following Ángel di María’s first-half injury. The Real Madrid star has subsequently been ruled out of the semi-final.
Every attack is going through Lionel Messi so if van Gaal gets his tactics right once more and prevents the Barcelona star from having a big influence on this match there’s a good chance the Netherlands can reach the final.
Neither Robin van Persie or Arjen Robben have scored since the group stage but both had several shots on goal in the quarter-final, whilst Wesley Sneijder struck the frame of the goal twice. On another day, any of those efforts may have gone in. Perhaps Wednesday will be the day for at least one of them.
This should be an intriguing tactical battle and I an leaning towards Louis van Gaal to win it.
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