World Cup 2014 semi-final preview: Brazil v Germany
Brazil have always beaten Germany when the two giants of world football have met in tournament football. Three wins from three is a formidable record, so the Samba Boys are narrow 17/10 favourites to enhance that with another victory in 90 minutes.
Phil Scolari is without star attacker Neymar, however, after he broke a vertebrae in his back in the quarter-final clash with Colombia. Both Brazil and Germany are rated equal 10/11 chances with Coral to advance.
Samba Boys skipper Thiago Silva, despite a late appeal, is likely to sit out through suspension after picking up a second booking of the tournament. It’s 9/5 that Germany can capitalise on his absence from defence and win in 90 minutes. A draw in normal time, meanwhile, is 11/5.
Die Mannschaft manager Joachim Low has spoken out about a perceived lack of flair in Brazilian ranks. “They’re playing more robustly than any other team here,” he said.
“There’s little left of that traditional Brazilian style of football. At the end of the day, it’s up to the referee to come up with the correct punishment.”
Robust or not, this World Cup on home soil is about results for Big Phil and his side. The above history can give them confidence, but Low also reckons Neymar’s injury will spur the Samba Boys on. “[His] teammates will want to win the World Cup for him,” the Germany gaffer added. “They’ll derive strength from that.”
It’s to the likes of Bernard, Fred, Hulk and Chelsea duo Oscar and Willian that Scolari will be looking that to fill Neymar’s shoes. Don’t discount David Luiz, who looks set to captain the side with Silva banned, either.
The new £40m PSG recruit has netted in both knockout rounds for Brazil. Back Luiz to be on target yet again, especially because of his set piece nous, at tasty odds of 6/1. Of the five names above, Willian, who has shaken off a back injury sustained in training, looks appealing at 11/2 in the anytime (in 90 minutes) market, because he offers more in his all-round game than the diminutive Bernard.
Fred, meanwhile, is a tempting 2/1 to add to 11 international goals in 20 caps under Scolari. Eight of his total tally of 18 for his country have come in tournament football, so the much-maligned target man knows how to make a difference at this level.
Germany have four players in their ranks who have scored against Brazil before. Low presided over a 3-2 friendly victory back in 2011 for Die Mannschaft and odds of 45/1 say that scoreline will be repeated. Mario Gotze and Andre Schurrle were on target that day, and are 11/4 each to net again.
Lukas Podolski completes the list of active German scorers against the Samba Boys, and is 10/3 to net once more. Centre back Mats Hummels has been a real aerial threat from set pieces, and is a 7/1 shot to add to his two goals.
Thomas Muller, Low’s top scorer with four at this tournament, remains a clear and present danger. Bayern Munich teammate Dante should be marking him, but is more used to cheering on a false number nine than dealing with one. Muller is 13/2 to strike first.
Miroslav Klose is the last man standing from Die Mannschaft’s 2002 World Cup squad beaten in the final. The now-veteran poacher was outshone that day by a brace from Brazil legend Ronaldo. Klose shares the record for most goals at World Cups (15) with him, but what irony if he broke it here? Odds of 15/8 say the Polish-born frontman will make history.
A repeat of that 2-0 Samba Boys victory comes in at 12/1 to boot. It all comes down to how and if Big Phil’s side can cope with key men missing. This is a great chance for Germany, so take 17/5 on a win to nil in 90 minutes.