All eyes turn to Belo Horizonte as hosts Brazil face their toughest test of the tournament against a typically strong Germany . Unibet experts Jack Lang and Raphael Honigstein go head-to-head to preview the semi-final.
Jack Lang on Brazil: After so much debate over Brazil’s midfield, it is perhaps a touch ironic that now looks like an area of strength coming into this game. At the back, the Seleção are without captain Thiago Silva, who is suspended after picking up a silly yellow card in the quarter-final against Colombia. Dante is the man likely to deputise. Things are even more distressing in attack: star player Neymar was ruled out of the tournament on Friday night after cracking a vertebra. Whether Scolari opts for Willian (with Oscar more central) or a midfield three of Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho and Fernandinho, Brazil will lose a great deal of creativity and attacking thrust.
Raphael Honigstein on Germany: There are no injuries or suspensions but Joachim Löw is worried about the fitness levels of Sami Khedira. If the Real Madrid player can’t feature, Christoph Kramer (Borussia Mönchengladbach) could come in or Philipp Lahm might move in from the right again. Both moves would weaken the team because with Lahm on the right, they have a natural outlet on the flanks that had been missing in the games prior to the 1-0 win over Algeria. On Monday night, sources close to the camp indicated that no final decision had been made, which would suggest that Khedira will undergo a late fitness test. The rest of the team should be unchanged, with the possible exception of the central striker role. Miroslav Klose wasn’t fully convincing as a starter v Les Bleus. Mario Götze could get one more chance to perform.
Jack Lang: After three ponderous games in the group stage and the tense, error-strewn victory over Chile in the round of 16, Brazil finally appeared to have woken up in the first half against Colombia. With Paulinho quietly impressive on his return to the side, the Seleção were able to build up the kind of suffocating momentum that proved so crucial in the Confederations Cup. The second half was less impressive, however, with Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side dropping ever deeper and inviting pressure.
Raphael Honigstein: Germany did show moments of vulnerability against France in Rio, but they impressed by closing out the game in a very matured, composed style after the break. Better finishing would have seen them kill the game off much earlier. Lahm on the right made a difference going forward, and Boateng and Hummels were good as the central defensive duo. Their pace allowed Germany to persist with a high defensive line. The result and manner of the win has produced high levels of confidence and optimism in the camp. But Thomas Müller also acknowledged that they can play much better in the final third.
WHAT THE MANAGER SAYS
Brazil’s Luiz Felipe Scolari: “A year and a half ago, no one believed in us. We won the Confederations Cup but a lot of people still weren’t backing us. We got through the group and the round of 16, and now we’re in the semi-finals. We’re getting over every hurdle.”
Germany’s Joachim Löw: “I hope the referee tomorrow, Mr Rodríguez from Mexico, will clamp down on the kind of things we saw last Friday. That physical energy in the match against Colombia went beyond the limits one would expect from a game in Europe. When I saw that match … well, in Europe, 22 players wouldn’t have ended that match on the pitch”
Jack Lang: With You Know Who likely to be watching from a hospital bed, much responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Oscar. Shunted to the flank for much of the tournament to free up Neymar, the Chelsea man is likely to have a more central role in this game. He will hope to reproduce the form he showed in the opening game against Croatia, when he was Brazil’s most industrious and influential player.
Raphael Honigstein: Thomas Müller. His running and imagination fires up the German attacks but he’s been a bit unlucky in the last two games. Germany need him to find his shooting boots again to edge out Brazil.
Jack Lang: Brazil/Germany HT/FT at 33.00. Expect Brazil to come flying out of the blocks once more in an attempt to get their noses in front. Germany, though, have the quality to come out on top within 90 minutes, especially with their opponents weakened.
Raphael Honigstein: Thomas Müller to suffer more than 2.5 fouls at 2.40
Jack Lang: Brazil 1-2 Germany at 11.50
Raphael Honigstein: Brazil 1-2 Germany at 11.50
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