The U.S. may be out of the tournament, but that doesn’t mean World Cup fever has to end as well.
Yes, the favorites have taken over the tournament, and all the underdogs we grew to love have gone (rest in peace, Costa Rica). On the bright side, we’re now blessed with two semifinals laden with talent and sure to produce drama. It’d only make sense to analyze both games and offer some predictions as well.
Germany 2-1 Brazil
There was one clear edge coming into this match, and he was announced out of the World Cup just hours after his quarterfinal match.
Brazilian forward Neymar suffered a fractured vertebra in a collision during Brazil’s 2-1 victory against Colombia. Without their top offensive weapon, Brazil can’t take advantage of one of Germany’s obvious weaknesses.
The Germans back line, despite featuring players like Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, has shown weakness when confronted with speed and athleticism. German manager Joachim Loew seems to change the line every game, but the problem is when the defenders get too aggressive and let forwards get past them.
Neymar would have been the perfect candidate to expose this flaw, but the Brazilians are left scrambling to adjust their lineup without him. The top two candidates to replace him are Bernard and Willian, two players with a combined 18 appearances for the national team.
The Germans will continue to play around midfielder Thomas Mueller. The 24-year-old’s dazzling strikes and ability to make the pass at the right time let Germany be as aggressive as they are, and they need that style versus the home team.
I see Mueller both scoring a goal and assisting on a goal, and Brazil not creating enough chances to get back into the game. Brazil may have the home crowd, but Germany’s machine-like style will win the match.
Argentina 2-0 Netherlands
One of these teams barely survived the last two rounds. The other team hasn’t allowed a goal in more than 250 minutes and has Lionel Messi. That might just sum it up.
Since his first match, Messi has brought the same spectacular play to this tournament that we have seen for so many years in Barcelona. Maybe it’s the joy of playing in front of so many angry Brazilians, or maybe it’s him realizing at 27 he doesn’t have many World Cups left. I don’t care, I’m just enjoying the show.
That said, Argentina and Holland do possess similar qualities. Both are known for their all-star forwards and midfielders, but their defense has come up just as big, pitching multiple shutouts in the tournament.
The two big differences are Messi and the location. Whether it is the climate or being far from home, South America has proven to be a clear advantage for teams in the Western Hemisphere. And considering they’ll probably have the advantage in fans, Argentina should be just fine.
I see Messi scoring a goal in the first half and Argentine winger Angel di Maria scoring one to put the match out of reach and end Holland’s great run.
If these results hold, it’ll give us a Germany-Argentina final that could make me forget all about the terrible 2010 World Cup Final. If the first 60 matches of this World Cup have told us anything, it’s that chances are good we’ll see more world-class matches.
Tommy Romanach is a 22-year-old mass communication senior from Dallas, Texas.