After a hard-fought quarterfinal round–one goal margins deciding three games, and a penalty shootout deciding another–four teams have one foot in the last match of the FIFA World Cup 2014, and it’s the usual suspects going at it once again–Brazil faces Germany, while Argentina takes on The Netherlands in a South America versus Europe double header!
So, who do we like? Who does history like? And, more important, who has the better WAGs, err, who will march into the final? We play football experts anew below!
THE REMATCH OF 2002
Brazil got the better of Germany in 2002’s World Cup final, but they were a much stronger side then (original Ronaldo and a prime Ronaldinho!). Can they pull a double over the Europeans? One side is definitely stronger today, and it isn’t the boys in yellow.
The Selecao (BRAZIL)
The Selecao have gone back to winning ugly, relying on two free kicks (a header and a direct shot on goal) to overturn a tough Colombia side, 2-1, in the quarters. The offense is lacking as seen by the fact that Brazil’s two center backs have scored all of their last three goals. Fun fact: All those goals came from set pieces, too–why has Brazil turned into 1990’s England (read: umaasa sa Free Kick)?
In other bad news, star man Neymar has fractured a vertebra and team captain Thiago Silva is suspended for accumulated yellow cards. Uh oh.
Dangerman: Super swole winger Hulk has stepped up his game in the last two matches, and was the most dangerous looking man next to Neymar–all that’s missing is a first goal and hopefully he can grab one against Germany.
Big if: Is it morale-boosting home advantage or choke-inducing home pressure?
Die Nationalmannschaft (GERMANY)
The Germans pulled off a relatively comfortable win against France, scoring an early goal and reducing Les Bleus to a handful of half-chances in a 1-0 grind-out game. Their defense looked impregnable thanks to the return of the previously injured center back Mats Hummels (with a goal to boot!), and captain Philip Lahm returning to his best position (wingback) instead of being forced to play fake midfielder. Goalie Manuel Neuer hasn’t been cheered as much in this goalie-dominated tournament, but he’s been catching everything that does leak through his D and makes it look easy. Aside from a surprise draw with Ghana, Germany has been unstoppable.
Dangerman: Thomas Muller hasn’t added to his joint-second top scorer four goals yet, but he’s a big-game performer and will be looking forward to testing Brazil’s second choice defense.
Big if: The Germans haven’t faced a South American team in the Cup so far, and have struggled in their games against other non-European competition. Will Brazil unhinge them again?
Result? We all want to see Brazil partying in the finals, but Neymar is irreplaceable in their lineup, so we call it 60/40 in favor of the Germans.