Brazil’s quest for World Cup glory on home soil continues when they face Germany in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday in the first of the two semi-finals (21:00 BST, live on BBC).
Brazil emerged victorious from a fractious quarter-final with Colombia on Friday, winning 2-1 thanks to goals from centre-backs Thiago Silva and David Luiz. It was again far from a vintage performance, but it was sufficient to see them progress to the last four.
The hosts topped Group A ahead of Mexico, Croatia and Cameroon before defeating Chile on penalties following a 1-1 draw in their round of 16 encounter. Their play has been very stilted throughout the tournament, with a reliance on moments of magic from Neymar and their proficiency from set-pieces to get the goals required for victory.
Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side were overly physical in their quarter-final victory over Colombia, committing 31 fouls. It was an effective tactic for breaking up Colombia’s attacks, particularly in light of the overly lenient officiating of Spanish referee Carlos Velasco. It did, however, set a tone for the match that eventually resulted in injury to their own star, Neymar.
The Barcelona forward took a knee to the back from Juan Zuniga late in the second half and will miss the rest of the tournament due to a cracked vertebra. His absence leaves Brazil facing the remainder of the competition without their top scorer and talisman, although it must be said that he was not particularly influential in either of the knockout round victories.
As well as Neymar, Scolari will also be without Silva for Tuesday’s match after his captain picked up his second yellow card of the competition in the win over Colombia. Dante is likely to come in for Silva, while Bernard and Willian are among the candidates to replace Neymar.
Germany come into the last four on the back of a relatively comfortable 1-0 win over France in their quarter-final. Mats Hummels scored the only goal of the match for Joachim Low’s side, who sat back thereafter and limited France to a small number of chances.
Low’s side topped Group G ahead of USA, Portugal and Ghana, playing particularly well in their 4-0 thrashing of the Portuguese. They found the going a little tougher in their round of 16 tie, eventually overcoming a determined and well-organised Algeria side by two goals to one after extra-time. Andre Schurrle and Mesut Ozil were the scorers.
Germany are a changed side from the quick and ruthless counter-attacking unit that thrilled in South Africa four years ago. Low has gradually transitioned the team to a more possession-based approach, sacrificing a degree of verticality for greater control. Only Spain and Argentina have registered a higher average share of possession during the World Cup.
With that said, Germany still carry a goal threat. Thomas Muller (pictured above) is both the team’s top scorer with four goals and their most important attacking weapon, with his intelligent movement consistently creating space for both him and his teammates. His fellow attacking midfielders and runners from deep burst forward to take advantage of the gaps.
Low will be without injured backup defender Shkodran Mustafi (thigh) for this match, but otherwise looks to have a full squad at his disposal.
Brazil vs Germany Betting Tips Verdict
Brazil and Germany first squared off in 1963 and have met on 20 subsequent occasions. Brazil have the upper hand historically, with 12 wins to Germany’s four, including a 2-0 victory when they met in the final of the 2002 World Cup – their only previous meeting in the tournament. Germany have failed to win in six previous encounters on Brazilian soil.
Brazil come into the semi-final shorn of both their captain and their star forward. They have been far from the most attractive team throughout the tournament and are likely to play with similar physicality to that seen in their win over Colombia. They will look to disrupt German possession and take their chances on counter-attacks and set-pieces.
Germany have the necessary invention and movement in their attacking play to cause the Brazilian defence problems, particularly as their positional interchanges will deprive Brazil’s centre-backs of a singular reference point. Their own defence has been easily breached on occasion, but behind them they have Manuel Neuer – one of the world’s best goalkeepers.
The Germans look well placed to end the Brazilian party with victory in Belo Horizonte.
- Back Germany to win (over 90 minutes) @ best odds of 19/10 with Coral. Check the latest match odds here.
- Muller is yet to score in the knockout stages, but his clever and varied movement is likely to provide him with at least a couple of chances to add to his four-goal tally. Back Thomas Muller to score at anytime @ 13/5 with BetVictor.