Brazil vs. Germany – Tuesday, July 8 at 3 p.m. CT
No Neymar and no Thiago Silva. What will this mean for a Brazilian team that is making its 10th World Cup semifinals appearance? Brazil has yet to show their best, having made it to this point without any decisive victories. But perhaps that is where they find their peace going into Tuesday’s game against Germany. They know they can do better, which should be quite frightening for the opposing team. Replacing two of the most important players will be tough, but Brazil also has history on its side. The country has not lost a competitive match at home since 1975. And as shaky as they’ve been, they’ll need every ounce of advantage that they can get. Germany plays organized and disciplined, a style of play that has frustrated Brazil all of this World Cup. With a hard defensive line, Germany beats opponents by neutralizing attacks and striking when the opportunity presents itself. Players like Thomas Müller have been creating plays for the German side all tournament long. If Brazil hopes to reach its 7th World Cup final, scoring early, just as they did against Colombia in the quarterfinals, will be vital. The last time these two powerhouses met on such a grand stage was in 2002, when Brazil beat Germany 2-0 to win the World Cup.
The Netherlands vs. Argentina – Wednesday, July 9 at 3 p.m. CT
Through superstar Lionel Messi, Argentina is as close to winning the World Cup as it’s been since the days of the great Diego Maradona. The team has looked steady and Messi has been living up to his famed name. The country has yet to lose a match this World Cup, seeming to somehow always find a way to win. On the opposing side is the 2010 World Cup runner-up Netherlands, which has appeared to be the team of destiny so far. While they too have not lost a match this tournament, they have beaten opponents in nail-biting fashion, as they did in the penalty shoot-out victory over Costa Rica. Argentina has not made a semifinal appearance since 1990, and historically, they have only beaten the Dutch once. The Netherlands have the better numbers in both shooting and scoring for this tournament, with forwards Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie each having scored three goals so far. But they also do not have a player like Messi. Nothing will be as important for this Netherlands team as keeping the Argentinian striker at bay. Messi has the second most goals in the tournament with four, but has also constantly created scoring for teammates, which is where the true danger lies. The Dutch will need to disrupt Argentina’s world class passing attack. A more wide-open type of match can be expected from this second semifinal, and based on how both teams have played; a penalty shoot-out would not be surprising.