The build-up to Germany’s semi-final was relatively low-key. As mentioned last time, the German fans expected to get this far, and they were unsure of how to feel. There is definitely a mutual sense of respect between the two nations – who are clearly two of the giants of the global game having won eight World Cups between them.
Even though Brazil had struggled to impress consistently during this World Cup, and even though they would be playing without their star player (Neymar) and captain (Thiago Silva), there was recognition (before the game) that these were the two best teams left in the World Cup, and it would have been more appropriate for them to meet in the final.
And you can understand that mind-set. After all, the Netherlands look very soft and uncertain at the back (and also at goalkeeper), and their midfield is also a bit suspect. Argentina has also not really clicked as a team, struggling to find any coherence, and relying on moments of Messi’s outrageous talent to save them. Neither team has been able to put teams away (the Netherlands game against Spain aside), which is a key requisite for a World Champion, and both would struggle against either Germany or Brasil. But, their semi-final should at least be entertaining.
Still, the Germans are nothing if not pragmatists. As long as they win their fourth star, they don’t really care who they beat in the final, even if it would be even more special to beat Brasil in the Maracana. There was a steely amount of confidence, but not exuberance, going into the game.
The Löw-Doktor spent most of the build-up putting pressure on the referee to not allow Brasil to get away with similar tactics to those used in the Columbia game, where they tried (with somewhat limited success) to kick James Rodriguez out of the game (yet they couldn’t see the irony when it was actually Neymar leaving on a stretcher). To be honest, I couldn’t see Germany struggling against a physical team, but a few early bookings for Brasil would certainly help the Germans out.
After the whole furore about where to play Lahm, and the Schweinsteiger-Khedira conundrum over the past few weeks, it was no real surprise that Löw kept the ‘changed’ team he played against France. Brasil, though, were forced into a few changes after Neymar’s injury and Thiago Silva’s stupid yellow card.
It turns out, though, that the loss of the central defender would prove the more costly loss for Brasil. We all saw what happened where Germany managed to stick four quick goals past a Brasil still shell-shocked from Müller’s opener. Ironically, my wife and her mate (both Jormans) felt more sorry for Brasil than I did.
Throughout the tournament, Brasil relied on their luck, home advantage, laissez-faire refereeing and a few moments of brilliance from some of their players. The way they approached the game against Columbia, and their persecution complex afterwards has led many to feel increasingly less pro-Brasil as the tournament has gone along. Actually, I found it strange that I started having such strong anti-Brasil feelings, as I’ve always found them quite likeable (especially when compared to rivals like Argentina and Uruguay).
Anyway – seven-bastard-one! Wow! I had thought Germany would edge it, but that was unreal. The best game – so far – of the best World Cup ever.
Ironically, now everyone here thinks Germany has won the World Cup. The party went long into the night (or drinking the shock away did, at least), but I didn’t join in. They played one great half against a switched-off Brasil team. They’re the still same team that struggled against Algeria, remember. So either they played-up to the occasion yesterday, or they played down to the opponent in the second round.
Either way, they should still go on to win the World Cup. But, as I’m reminding them, they haven’t won it yet.
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