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World Cup Semi-Finals: Brazil vs Germany

The last time these to soccer titans faced off in 2002, Brazil won 2-0. Revenge is dish best served 12 years later.

Martin Rose
Estadio MineiraoBelo Horizonte (BRA)
08 Jul 2014 - 17:00 Local time

Given what happened in the quarterfinals, however, Germany head coach Joachim Löw’s worried the tend is heading in a more dangerous direction. Brazil drew 31 whistles on Friday (to Colombia’s 23) and committed six offenses against Colombia’s best player, James Rodríguez. Combine the numbers from the 120 minutes they played in the Round of 16 against Chile, and the host nation has committed 59 fouls in their last two games.
There is, however, some reason to believe Brazil’s trending in the wrong direction. As games have become more important, the numbers hint Brazil has been more willing to embrace a more cynical style. Consider the escalation of fouls committed from game one to five: 5, 13, 19, 28, 31. As the stakes increased, so did Brazil’s willingness to test the rules.

Following Germany’s 2-1 extra-time triumph over Algeria in the last 16, Kicker proclaimed Neuer Die Falsche 5 - The False 5. He made 32 passes. To put that into perspective only four Algeria players completed more. Among goalkeepers in Brazil, Neuer’s passing total that night in Porto Alegre has only been bettered by the 34 that Chile’s Claudio Bravo managed against Australia. Is it any wonder the latter has just signed for Barcelona?
But what made Neuer’s performance stand out in a tournament that - Igor Akinfeev, Iker Casillas and Jung Sung-Ryong apart - has so far been distinguished by great goalkeeping was his interpretation of the role. No fewer than 20 of his 59 touches were outside the box. Neuer’s sudden appearances from out of shot, those dashes from his area to get to a ball ahead of an opponent or to make a tackle - he covered 5.5km - provided us with some of the most exhilarating, up off your seat, heart-in-the-mouth moments of the World Cup.

Projected lineups (left to right)

Brazil (4-2-3-1): Júlio César; Marcelo, David Luiz, Dante, Maicon; Luiz Gustavo, Fernandinho; Hulk, Oscar, Ramires; Fred.

Germany (4-3-3): Manuel Neuer; Benedikt Höwedes, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Philipp Lahm; Toni KroosBastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira; Mesut Özil, Miroslav Klose, Thomas Müller.