Look. It’s no secret that I am openly rooting against Brazil in this tournament. I don’t like their team, and I don’t want to root for them. That being said, does anyone outside of Germany actually want Germany to win? Seventy years ago, I would have said the Japanese and the Italians, but not these days (I kid! You know I had to do it…). When you add the fact that two of Brazil’s best players won’t be in their lineup, I’m feeling much better about wanting Brazil to win this game… I think.
When you’re talking World Cup pedigrees, these two teams are the cream of the crop. When you combinde their accomplishments, the numbers are staggering. Germany and Brazil have combined for 14 finals appearances and eight World Cup championships, with Brazil taking home a record five titles (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002), and Germany winning three (1954, 1974, 1990). The countries also currently share the all-time leading goal scorer in World Cup history, as Ronaldo and Miroslav Klose are tied with 15 in their careers (Klose is still on Germany as a sub, and has one goal so far this tournament). Despite all that, however, these two teams have only been rivals from a distance. Brazil has played in every World Cup, and Germany has only missed two (nobody liked them after World War II), but the teams have only ever clashed mano a mano one time in a World Cup history–the final of the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan, which Brazil won 2-0. Although only Klose was on that German team, I think they might be looking for a bit of revenge.
Ronaldo shoots past German Goalie Oliver Kahn in the 2002 World Cup Finals.
OK, let’s talk about the actual 2014 version of this game. As I mentioned above, Brazil will take the field without two of their superstars, Neymar and Thiago Silva. Neymar is their best player (and one of the best in the world), and quite possibly the only guy on this team who can do enough to create offense for both by himself and for his teammates. Is Fred going to make a defense panic? Is he going to draw two or three German defenders? No. The guy’s name is Fred, for Pete’s sake (note: Pete is not another Brazilian player). Jô, meanwhile, hasn’t played much in this tournament, and didn’t play well when he did get action. Hulk is the only real threat on offense for Brazil right now. Can he step up and allow Brazil to run the offense through him? Just because I did that successfully in my FIFA ’14 campaign, after shrewdly transferring him to my Atlético Madrid team, it doesn’t mean that can happen in real life. Maybe someone all-together new, like Willian, will step in and run the show, but he’s already 25, and the Chelsea winger hasn’t made a huge international impact yet. I really get the feeling that it’s going to be very hard for Brazil to generate offense against such a tough German defense.
Silva will most likely be replaced by Dante, a central defender for Bayern Munich of the Bundesliga, which should give Brazilians some hope. He’s not at the level of a player like Silva, but he’s still a solid defender who is used to top-notch competition in Germany, so the 30-year old won’t feel overwhelmed out there. He just won’t be as good as Silva, which might be enough to do Brazil in at the end of the day. Brazil also has the option of slotting Dani Alves back into the lineup after he didn’t start against Colombia. Also, let’s all ignore those ridiculous rumors that Neymar is going to try to play while all hopped up on pain killers. A, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, and anyone involved in that rumor should lose their jobs. B, Neymar already denied the rumors. C, I feel like Barcelona would do everything in their power to stop that from happening.
The last time Brazil trusted Willian, he missed a penalty kick against Chile.
Germany, meanwhile, is pretty much fully healthy, other than that mysterious “flu” they’ve been suffering through (somebody arrest every local witch doctor). Personell wise, there’s no comparison, though. Germany still has Thomas Müller–quite possibly 95% of the reason I want Germany to lose this game–as well as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mesut Özil, Toni Kroos, Mario Götze, Philipp Lahm, and the ageless Klose. Germany had a lot more depth than Brazil to begin with, and now that Brazil’s missiing two of its biggest superstars, the road to victory looks much easier for the Die Mannschaft (that name still makes me giggle).
I’m in a bit of an odd predicament, in that I want a South American team to win this World Cup, but the last two South American teams left in the tournament are two of my least favorite teams in the entire world. In this case, the lesser of the two evils prevails, so I guess I’ll be rooting for Brazil. My grandfather up above would be proud.
What do the guys at ThreeForAWin think?
Featured image courtesy of: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
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