In what has been one of the most memorable tournaments in recent memory, the semifinals of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is shaping up to be special.
In a final four that features a combined ten World Cup titles between Brazil(5), Germany(3) and Argentina(2) is a football—nee soccer—in the States—purist’s proverbial wet dream. Throw in three-time World Cup runner-up, Netherlands(1974, 1978, 2010) and you have the makings of two semi-final matches that will evoke memories of Pele, Johan Cryuff, Diego Maradona and Franz Beckenbauer among the staunchest of football die-hards.
With the recent injuries to soccer’s new golden boy/marketing tool, Neymar due to a sprained vertebrae and the thigh injury to Argentina’s Angel Di Maria, fans will be robbed of the chance to see a Neymar-Messi dream head-to-head matchup in the storied Maracana in Rio.
Instead, fans can pull for sentimental favorite—and greatest player of his generation—in Messi, who is one step away from rightfully etching his name among football immortality. And what better stage and place than to do it on than the soil of Argentina’s most hated rival in the Selecao, right?
With that being said, here is how I see the World Cup semifinals unfolding.
Brazil vs. Germany(Tuesday, July 8, 2014, ESPN, 4:00 PM EST): No Neymar, no Thiago Silva, no problem for Brazil right? In what could be a low-scoring affair, Brazil will need to be it’s usual creative and dynamic self against a steady, efficient and balanced German side that is shows no weaknesses, is patient and methodical in breaking down opponents.
While Brazil still has the likes of David Luiz, Hulk and Jo, without Neymar creating that spark up front, Germany should advance to Rio easily. Prediction: Germany 3-1
Argentina vs. Netherlands(Wednesday, July 9, 2014, ESPN, 4:00 PM EST): In a rematch from the 1978 World Cup held in Argentina, won by the hosts, 3-1, over the Netherlands, 3-1 in extra time, the 2010 World Cup runner-ups and Argentina renew acquaintances in squaring off in what should be an open up-and down game filled with pace, quality scoring chances and goals.
In the Netherlands you have gifted and skilled strikers up front in Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Dirk Kuyt who will be sure to put the Oranje in position to win against a loaded Argentina side that features Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero.
With both teams likely to score, don’t be surprised if this match comes down to penalties, as the Dutch are already all too familiar with. Prediction: 2-2, Argentina wins on PK’s(5-4)
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