Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 8th 2014 Contents A62
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, July 8, 2014
RIO DE JANEIRO---Brazil and Germany are two
of the most decorated teams in football, with eight
World Cup titles between them. Both have their
share of players among the all-time greats, and
both entered this tournament being touted among
the main favourites.
So even without the injured Neymar, today's
semifinal in Belo Horizonte provides an intriguing
matchup for any neutral fan, as Germany and Brazil
play each other at the World Cup for the first time
since the 2002 final.
Here is a look at how the teams compare in 2014:
Manuel Neuer has been one of Germany's best players
this tournament, especially in the knockout rounds. He
bailed out Germany's erratic defence numerous times by
rushing out to clear ball after ball in the second-round win
over Algeria, and made key saves to deny Karim Benzema
an equaliser for France in the quarterfinals. The Bayern
Munich No. 1 has won just about everything at club level
and is regarded as one of the top keepers in the world.
Julio Cesar used to have that reputation as well, but is
arguably not quite the player he was during his best years
at Inter Milan. He now plays for Toronto in Major League
Soccer. He's been solid at this World Cup, however, where
he has yet to concede more than one goal in a game. And
the 34-year-old Cesar has come up big when Brazil needed
Brazil has always been known for its attacking play, but
this World Cup squad arguably has more impressive names
in defence. However, the team's best defender --- captain
Thiago Silva --- is suspended for the semifinal, a big blow for
the back four. But Brazil has a good replacement in Bayern
Munich's Dante to put in alongside David Luiz, while coach
Luiz Felipe Scolari will have to decide whether to put
Barcelona's Dani Alves back in at right back or stick with
Maicon, who was a surprise starter in the quarterfinals.
Real Madrid's Marcelo should guard the left wing.
Germany's defence looked downright awful against
Algeria, and coach Joachim Loew responded by dropping
centre back Per Mertesacker for the next match and
moving captain Philip Lahm to his favourite position as
right back instead of midfield. The changes worked, and
Germany looked like its old solid self against France. With
Mats Hummels back to anchor the central defence --- and
even scoring the winning goal against France .
Germany's midfield has been given a big boost by
Bastian Schweinsteiger returning to full fitness after a knee
injury. Playing alongside Sami Khedira, Schweinsteiger can
control the pace of the game while also helping out
defensively, giving Toni Kroos room to work as the team's
main playmaker. While Mesut Ozil has had a fairly
lacklustre tournament so far, he's one of the world's best
passers and could still prove crucial for Germany.
Brazil's midfield will likely have a new look for this game
as Scolari is expected to replace Neymar with a midfielder
--- probably Willian. The Chelsea player has enough speed
and skill to cause defenders trouble, but doesn't have the
scoring ability of Neymar. Oscar, another Chelsea player, will
also need to step up as a playmaker. Luiz Gustavo is back
after a suspension, which should help shore things up
With Neymar in the team, the forward line was always a
strength for Brazil. Without him, it's a glaring weakness.
Fred has struggled badly as the team's centre forward at
the World Cup, scoring just one goal in fivematches. Hulk
has looked lively throughout but has yet to score, while Jo
has failed to make an impact when he's come on as a
Germany, meanwhile, has Thomas Mueller and Miroslav
Klose as its main attacking options. Mueller has four goals
so far in Brazil --- one short of his tally in South Africa in
2010 --- while the 36-year-old Klose has a chance to break
the World Cup scoring record. Klose shares the record of 15
career goals with Brazil great Ronaldo, so the Brazilian
defenders will probably be extra eager to shut him down.
Germany also has better options off the bench, with Lukas
Podolski and Mario Goetze to bring on.
No Neymar, attack
not Brazil's focus
BELO HORIZONTE --- With Neymar out
and Brazil's forwards ineffective through-
out the World Cup, it will be up to the
team's defenders and midfielders to keep
Brazil in contention at the World Cup.
Brazil is having to turn the focus away
from its once-mighty attack ahead of the
semifinal against Germany today, hoping
the rest of the team will be able to come
through and carry the hosts into the final.
Brazil scored 10 goals in its first five
matches, with half of them coming from
defenders and midfielders. Neymar scored
four, with center forward Fred only finding
the net once. Defenders scored the team's
last three goals.
Without any reliable options for the
attack, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is almost
certain to replace striker Neymar with a
Scolari recently even considered removing
Fred from the lineup and adding a third
central defender, going back to the 3-5-2
formation that he used when he led Brazil
to its fifth world title in 2002.
"We are a team, and a team is not made
up only of strikers," Scolari said. "We have
a group. When this group wins, everybody
wins, regardless of who scores the goals."
Chelsea midfielder Willian is the most
likely replacement for Neymar, but in the
team's final practice on Monday, Scolari
hinted that he may even use three defensive
midfielders, with Luiz Gustavo returning to
the team after a yellow card suspension.
"We have good players for the sector
where Neymar played," Scolari said. "We
have options. I'm confident, I'm not wor-
In addition to the Barcelona star, the
coach picked four other strikers for the
World Cup: Fred, Bernard, Jo and Hulk.
Fred was supposed to supply the goals,
but the Fluminense player struggled from
the beginning and has been loudly criticized
by fans and local media. His lone goal came
in the 4-1 win over Cameroon in the team's
final group-stage match.
"Fred has been playing for the team,"
Scolari said. "We can keep winning, even
if he doesn't score. Fred is not the only one
in charge of scoring. Everyone has that
Brazil hasn't had a star striker since Ronal-
do stopped playing after the 2006 World
Cup. Luis Fabiano was the team's starter in
the 2010 tournament in South Africa.
In addition to missing Neymar, Scolari
also won't be able to count on captain and
central defender Thiago Silva because of a
yellow card suspension. Dante, who plays
in Germany for Bayern Munich, is almost
certain to replace him.
Silva scored one of Brazil's goals in the
2-1 win over Colombia in the quarterfinals
on Friday. Fellow defender David Luiz scored
the other. Luiz also had scored the team's
lone goal in the second round against Chile.
The other goal-scorers for Brazil at its
home World Cup were Oscar and Fernand-
inho, both finding the net in the group stage.
Germany concerned about roughnes
midfielder Bastian Schwein-
steiger thinks Brazil has crossed
the line with some of its hard
tackling ahead of the World
Cup semifinals and is urging
referees to keep a closer eye on
the host team.
"I am all for a healthy hard-
ness but some of Brazil's fouls
were over the limit," Schwein-
steiger said. "Brazilians are not
only football magicians, hard
tackling is part of their game ---
we have to be careful and so
does the referee."
Brazil committed 31 fouls in
its quarterfinal win over Colom-
bia, which had 23. But it was
one particular Colombian foul,
by Juan Zuniga, which overshad-
owed the others because it took
out Neymar with a fractured
vertebra and knocked the Brazil-
ian attacking talisman out of the
Brazil has committed 96 fouls
in five matches, significantly
more than Germany's 57. Brazil
players have received 10 yellow
cards, six more than German
"Brazil is an outstanding team
that plays at the limit of the
allowed and will go over the limit
if necessary," Germany assistant
coach Hansi Flick told reporters.
He said the absence of the
injured star could help galvanize
the Brazil squad for today's
match in Belo Horizonte.
"It's definitely a loss for Brazil,
Neymar has lived up to expec-
tations, but his absence can unite
the team more and we expect a
very strong opponent," Flick
Schweinsteiger agreed, saying
"We are all very sad that Neymar
is not playing," but adding that
Brazil's team will bind even more
closely "and will try to win the
title for Neymar."
The Bayern Munich midfield-
er thinks Brazil's coaching staff
of chief Luiz Felipe Scolari and
his assistant Carlos Alberto Par-
reira is its biggest strength.
Scolari's job got a lot harder
when Neymar was ruled out and
captain Thiago Silva was sus-
pended for a match after picking
up picking up a second yellow
card in the tournament.
Flick said that all 22 remaining
Germany players are fit and
ready to play. Backup defender
Shkodran Mustafi is out of the
tournament with a torn leg
Brazil's players Willian, left, Fred, Fernandinho, Maicon, Bernard and Hernanes joke around
during a practice session at the Granja Comary training centre in Teresopolis, Brazil,
yesterday. Brazil will face Germany today in a World Cup semifinal match without Neymar.
Germany players stretch during a training session ahead of the
World Cup semifinal match between Brazil and Germany at the
Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. AP PHOTO
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