Brazil face Germany and the Netherlands face Argentina this week to determine who will face off in the 2014 World Cup final.
The bookmakers’ four favourites from the quarter-finals each made it through to the semi-finals, meaning that all 12 knock-out games in this summer’s tournament have seen the favourite progress.
Should that trend continue then we will be seeing Germany and Argentina meet in the final for a record third time on Sunday. However, Brazil and the Netherlands may have something to say about that.
Brazil vs Germany
Brazil are looking to become the first hosts to reach the World Cup final since France in 1998 but will need to go past the tournament favourites to achieve this.
Luiz Felipe Scolari’s task has been made even tougher with the absence of arguably his two best players. Neymar has been ruled out of the tournament with a broken bone in his back picked up late in their quarter-final victory over Colombia last week. Whilst Thiago Silva is suspended for barging over opposition goalkeeper David Ospina whilst clearing the ball.
Germany were comfortable in their 1-0 quarter-final victory over France after Mats Hummels opened the scoring inside13 minutes. Joachim Löw’s side showed solid defence by allowing France very few opportunities on goal. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was forced into making only two decent saves in the game.
Going forward, Germany missed a couple of good opportunities on the counter attack. One would expect them to have more chances on the counter against a Brazilian defence that has looked vulnerable to them and which is without its leader, Thiago Silva.
I cannot see Brazil’s defence coping with the Germans’ that has a number of options, including Miroslav Klose, Thomas Müller, Toni Kroos, Mario Götze, Lukas Podolski, André Schürrle and Mesut Özil.
Netherlands vs Argentina
The Netherlands dominated their quarter-final against Costa Rica but needed penalties to progress after a 0-0 draw.
Robin van Persie was denied by a stoppage time goalline block as well as being thwarted by Keylor Navas earlier in the game, Wesley Sneijder hit the frame of the goal twice and Arjen Robben saw a number of attempts blocked.
On another day, perhaps the Dutch would not have needed the goalkeeping heroics of substitute Tim Krul in the penalty shootout.
Argentina were 1-0 winners over Belgium in their quarter-final but failed to create very little after Ángel di María went off just after the half hour mark. By this point Gonzalo Higuaín had already given Alejandro Sabella’s team the lead and looked well on top.
The South American sides defence had looked suspect earlier in the tournament but they have now kept three clean sheets in both games, including both of their knock-out round games. Goalkeeper Sergio Romero hasn’t been called into too much action either.
A couple of injuries up top puts even more responsibility on the shoulders of Lionel Messi who has been in top form despite not scoring in either of the last two matches. This should be a terrific tactical battle and a tight affair is expected. I’m leaning towards the underdog Netherlands to make it through.