The first World Cup semi-final takes place in Belo Horizonte tonight as two giants of international football battle it out for a place in the final of the World Cup. Here, we take a look at where the game between Brazil and Germany is likely to be decided.
Road to the semi-final
The Selecao overcame an impressive Colombia side in their quarter-final clash, with goals from the defensive pairing David Luiz and Thiago Silva helping the host nation to a 2-1 win. An opening day victory over Croatia and a drubbing off Cameroon saw Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side top Group A, before they edged past Chile on penalties in the second round.
Mats Hummels' second goal of the tournament led Joachim Low’s team into the semi-finals of the competition at the expense of France. Germany started their World Cup campaign off with an impressive 4-0 demolition of Portugal and a narrow victory over the USA was enough to see them take first place in Group G.
A 2-1 extra-time win over Algeria saw them through to the final eight.
These two giants of world football have only ever met once in the World Cup despite playing more matches at the tournament than any other nations. That meeting came in the 2002 World Cup final, with Brazil running out 2-0 winners thanks to a Ronaldo brace.
Since then there has been nothing to split the two respective countries with a win each and a draw in their last three encounters, the last of which came in 2011 when Germany were the victors by a 3-2 scoreline.
12 Julio César
02 Dani Alves
17 Luiz Gustavo
04 David Luiz
• The 31 fouls Brazil committed against Colombia is the most they have ever recorded in a World Cup match on record.
• Brazil’s last defeat was against Switzerland last August and is the only blot on their copybook in their last 26 games.
• The hosts are also unbeaten in their last 42 home matches.
• Brazil have won their last five semi-finals and have only ever exited the tournament at this stage once before, that was their first semi-final against Italy in 1938.
• Germany have become the first nation to reach four successive World Cup semi-finals.
• Their semi-final record is something of a mixed bag with four wins, five defeats and two draws (both won on penalties) in 11 outings.
• Low’s side are unbeaten in their last 16 matches.
• Germany have kept the most clean sheets in the competition with three.
The loss of Neymar is undoubtedly going to have a huge impact on the host nation, especially in tandem with the absence of captain and leader Thiago Silva.
Germany will be looking to exploit these frailties and nudge ahead as favourites despite their own stutterings throughout the competition.
Both of these sides goals in the quarter-finals came from set pieces and Germany will be looking to exploit the missing organisation of Thiago Silva.
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