Germany set to face weakened host Brazil

While this semifinal game will likely be another exciting World Cup match, the odds I originally saw all over the Internet were somewhat puzzling.

A number of high-traffic sites gave Brazil the advantage, some at an 80 percent chance of advancing. The official odds, though, are more of a toss-up.

Brazil is missing its star, Neymar, after he suffered a fractured vertebra late in the quarterfinal against Colombia. It’s also missing captain Thiago Silva, who received his second yellow card of the tournament in the 64th minute of the same game. That means he’ll be suspended for the match. With the two best players out for the match, all hopes of the host country getting through to the final seem tenuous at best.

Brazil appealed to FIFA about the second booking, but it was never likely FIFA would reverse the decision. It would be incredibly controversial to do so, and FIFA is already getting enough flack for its selection of Qatar as the 2022 host of the World Cup. (Really, I still don’t get that, bribery or not.)

It doesn’t seem like Brazil was prepared for everything in this tournament, as its top two players are out and no great options exist to fill in for Neymar at forward.

Those who predict Brazil to win based on recent performances seem to forget that Group G was no small challenge for Germany. They also forget that Chile probably should have been the team advancing to the quarterfinals. Brazil was not impressive, as Chile forced penalties on Brazil and had chances to win before then. That storyline doesn’t seem to match the description of a team playing at home that’s supposed to breeze into the finals.

Apart from Brazil’s deficiencies, though, Germany seems to have been misjudged. This German squad has plenty of experience, and none of its players are sidelined.

Germany was composed and controlled in its quarterfinal match against France. Once Mats Hummels scored on a header off a Toni Kroos free kick, the Germans executed a boring but effective game plan to keep the ball out of the net. Germany should be well-prepared for this match.

While Germany chose to cruise into the semifinals, the team can score big. In its first match against Portugal, Germany pounded out a 4-0 shutout. Though Ghana forced a draw the following match, Germany has been in control of most games. Thomas Müller, who scored a hat trick in that match, is a clinical finisher who also has a pair of assists this Cup. If the German defense that has only allowed three goals in five games this tournament holds its own and Müller plays well, it’s hard to see an embattled Brazil win the match.

While there is a possibility Brazil could rally behind its home crowd or Germany could have an uncharacteristically bad semifinal, Brazil may need both. I don’t think that happens. Look to see Germany advance to the finals with a 2-1 win.

Dan Johnson is editor-in-chief of Three for Ten Sports and former managing editor of The Collegian at Grove City College.

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