32 teams arrived in Brazil last month – all eager to play in the Fifa World Cup 2014.
Now, only four remain.
Who will be booted out next? Which two teams will face off at the Maracana, come 13 July?
Here are my predictions.
Brazil v Germany
Prediction: Germany to win 1-0
All through the group stages, and in their Round of 16 clash against Chile, the Selecao were there in body, but the players’ spirit and minds had clearly not been participating in the tournament.
But against dark horses and surprise package, Colombia, in the quarter-finals, Brazil finally turned up. Colombia didn’t seem to know what had hit them. The Selecao were playing like men possessed and thoroughly deserved their victory against their fellow South Americans.
Alas, Brazil’s quarter-final victory came at a very heavy price, though.
For, towards the end of the Colombia game, their talisman and star performer, Neymar, was taken off on a stretcher – following a collision with Colombia’s Juan Camilo Zuniga. He was later found to have broken the third verterbra in the lumbar region on his back. This devastating injury puts a tragic and premature end to Neymar’s Fifa World Cup campaign. Alas, football can be so cruel!
Besides Neymar, Selecao captain, Thiago Silva, will also be out of the semi-final game, as he is suspended. This is courtesy of picking up his second yellow card. So the Brazilians will be unable to capitalise on the services of two influential players.
Can the Selecao fight on without Neymar and Silva? The romantic streak in me would like to see the Brazilians successfully avenge their 1950 world cup final defeat – and finally clinch the trophy on home soil.
However, my head thinks that the efficient German machine, which has only conceded one goal in the past three games, will progress to the final. Brazil can still produce moments of magic without Neymar, but I think these won’t quite be enough to take the hosts all the way. The ruthless and powerful German machine will crush Brazilian hearts and continue to steamroll on.
Argentina v Netherlands
Prediction: Netherlands to win 2-1
After years of underperforming for La Albiceleste, Lionel Messi has finally shown his true colours for his country. At long last, he has arrived on the international stage. In fact, several moments of magic from Argentina’s very own Little Genius throughout the Fifa World Cup this year, has taken his country to the semi-finals… for the first time since 1990.
So can Messi successfully lead La Albiceleste all the way to the Fifa World Cup crown? Will he finally prove to the world, what he is capable of?
Much as I would like Messi and Argentina to finally show the world what they are capable of, I see the Oranje as winning this encounter though – and booking their slot at the Maracana.
After all, the Netherlands is the more in-form team so far, compared to Argentina. For example, even though they drew 0-0 against the Ticos in their quarter-final game, and needed penalties to win, take a look at the statistics of that match. The Oranje had a whopping 20 shots on goal as well as 67 per cent possession of the ball. With such possession, they could have easily won the match in regulation or extra time, if they had been more clinical in front of the goalmouth.
And Argentina can be nullified when Messi gets marked tightly, as evidenced from La Albiceleste’s last two games – when he failed to get his name on the score sheet.
So I think that the Oranje will go on to the World Cup final – thus setting up an all-European affair.
Sorry, folks… much as I would love to watch an all South-American final!
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