This has been the best World Cup I can remember without a doubt. There has been so much drama and great play by some of the top players that it has exceeded expectations in terms of entertainment value. The World Cup however, does not have any GREAT teams, even still at the semifinal point in the tournament. As I said in my World Cup preview…anyone can win!
I have to say that I picked pretty well and got ¾ teams into the semi-finals with only missing Spain. However, I did preface the Dutch could sneak in there as well. So enough patting myself on the back and here’s my World Cup semifinal preview!
Germany vs. Brazil
This rematch of the 2002 World Cup final is delicious on paper and in World Cup lore. Brazil has won 5 times and Germany (including the West Germany days) has won 3. The Germans have gotten to the semifinals or beyond in 4 straight World Cups but haven’t won since 1990. Brazil has been hanging on by a thread and is without their two top players (arguably for Thiago Silva) for the semifinal and in Neymar’s case-the final too. So what will happen?!
Germany will come out aggressive as the Brazil defense is very weak and undersized compared to the German front line. I think that the Germans will possess the ball, slow things down a la Italy and have a lot of shots to really test Julio Cesar in goal; who has been pretty good this tournament.
Germany has not been overly impressive in any of their matches outside the first one when they put it to Portugal (which realistically is what put the US through to the knockout round because of goal differential). However, they do have a lot of firepower and many guys that can score.
In my view, the best player on Germany is Thomas Muller. He is a flat out scorer and for some reason often gets overlooked by the international media. More attention is generally paid to Schweinsteiger, Podolski, Lahm, Ozil or Klose. However, Mueller is a sniper and I think he will be the difference maker in this game. If Mueller scores, I think Germany wins…and I think he will score.
I hate to say it but I don’t think the Brazilians can overcome the loss of Neymar and their Captain Thiago Silva; who committed the dumbest yellow card infraction of the whole World Cup last match. Brazil doesn’t really have any pure scorers on their roster for this game. They have some good players that can score of course at times like Hulk, Fred, Oscar and David Luiz but those guys don’t really scare you. They are missing a deep team that they’ve had in recent World Cups.
I think Brazilian manager Scolari will have to reinsert Dani Alves to bolster their defense and give them some firepower on potential free kicks at distance-Alves is exceptional at these. I hope I am wrong because I would LOVE to see Brazil win but I don’t think they can score. I honestly think their best hope is to keep the score 0-0 and get to penalty kicks a la Costa Rica against Holland the other day.
We shall see what happens but I am picking Germany even though I HATE to do that!
Argentina vs. Holland
This rematch of the 1978 World Cup final is also a great match up on paper. However, I truly believe this is a match up of two very average teams. The difference being Argentina has the best player in the world who has been playing like it this tournament. Lionel Messi has to be the difference for Argentina to win-there is no way around that.
Messi doesn’t necessarily have to score to influence that game. Take the last game for example, but he has to possess the ball and attract defenders to him to open up other players to get good shots on goal. Messi is a passing master and is unselfish and will find an open man. Messi will be front and center as no one single player has as much pressure on his shoulders than the great Messi this World Cup. Argentina must win and he must perform in this game and in the final. I think he will!
Holland has been great at times and very lucky at times. That is their nature. They can be the best team on the planet or they can be completely average. They have 3 world-class players in Schneijder, Robben and Van Persie and the ability to stomp Argentina. However, they are inconsistent and in my view, lucky to be here. I also think they may be a bit jetlagged so to speak after the Costa Rica game.
I fully admit I really want Argentina to win and I may be a little bias in my pick but objectively I think the strength of Argentina is better than the weakness on defense of Holland and I think Argentina gets by 1-0 or 2-1, something like that.
I think Argentina will play Germany at the Maracana for the World Cup on Sunday where I think and hope it will be a day for Messi’s coronation as one of the 3 best players of all time at 27 years old.