Jul 7, 1004 days ago

2014 World Cup – Semi Final preview

2014 World Cup – Semi Final preview

After some superb performances by a number of the World Cup’s less fancied teams, the semi-finals feature four bona fide giants of the modern game. Hosts Brazil have somehow managed to find their way to the last four and face Germany in Belo Horizonte before new tournament favourites Argentina play the Netherlands in Sao Paolo.

Here’s our preview of the 2014 World Cup semi finals.

South America v Europe for a place in the World Cup final

They have been far from convincing in most of their matches so far but somehow Brazil have managed to make it to their first World Cup semi-final since 2002. The hosts scraped past Chile on penalties before a mighty scare against Colombia and needed a wonder strike from David Luiz to send them on their way to a 2-1 victory.

Brazil’s key player so far has been Neymar but the forward will miss the rest of the tournament after suffering an injury in the win over Colombia. The hosts will also miss the suspended Thiago Silva for the match in Belo Horizonte and coach Phil Scolari has one or two tactical and personnel decisions to make. Do Brazil stick with misfiring striker Fred? Who will partner David Luiz in central defence? And who will come in to replace the talismanic number ten?

Apart from an hour or so in their opening match against Portugal we haven’t really yet seen what Germany are capable of. They were functional more than exhilarating in their wins over Algeria and France and Joachim Low’s side have yet to burst into life in the knockout stages.

I actually still believe that if the true Germany turns up that they can easily win this tournament. It will be tough in front of a partisan home crowd but I think Brazil have been lucky so far and I can see their run coming to an end at the semi-final stage. Back Germany to nick it 1-0 at 13/2.

Argentina and Brazil have never both reached the semi-final stage of the same World Cup and now the pair are just one match away from a dream all-South American final. Standing in Argentina’s way are the Netherlands and this promises to be an intriguing clash in Sao Paolo.

While they may be a team packed with attacking talent – and in Lionel Messi they have one of the best players of the tournament – Argentina haven’t set the tournament alight. They have won three of their matches 1-0 and the other two by a solitary goal and so they have yet to really take another side apart.

It’s been 24 years since Argentina’s last World Cup semi-final and their only injury concern is over Angel di Maria who will miss the match. Sergio Aguero has trained and should play alongside Messi and Gonzalo Higuain who scored the winner in the quarter final.

Despite their heritage, it could be argued that the Netherlands have been this tournament’s surprise package. Arriving in Brazil with their weakest squad in decades – at least on paper – most observers expected the Dutch to either go out in the group stage or in the last 16. However, they have defied the odds to reach their second consecutive semi-final and have ridden their luck along the way.

Louis van Gaal’s side needed two late goals to overcome Mexico in the last 16 and Costa Rica gave them a mighty fright in Salvador before they finally prevailed after winning a penalty shootout in which Tim Krul – the substitute goalkeeper – was the hero.

There are plenty of neutrals who would love Holland to finally win a World Cup and I sincerely hope they play to the best of their ability on Wednesday night. Arjen Robben can cause Argentina’s defence lots of problems but I think the South Americans may have just enough to scrape through.

Don’t expect lots of goals, though. 0-0 after 90 minutes is available at 11/2 while you can back under 2.5 goals at 1/2.

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