I only missed one game in the quarterfinals. I saw Belgium beating Argentina. I still think Belgium should have won that game.
But I was correct about the Brazil v. Colombia game – don’t miss it! The ref has deservedly received a lot of criticism for not pulling cards in the first half and letting so many poor tackles go, but I really enjoyed watching this game. It was wide open and just a lot of fun. That’s tough on Neymar to have such a bad injury and miss the rest of the tournament, but the reports so far are that he will make a full recovery, and we should all be glad about that. Neymar is a young kid with amazing skill, and whether you’re a fan or not, it would be tragic to see all that promise come to an end because of a poor challenge.
So here are my semifinal predictions:
Germany v. Brazil (7/8 4 p.m. est)
Neymar is injured and Thiago Silva is suspended from the game based on two yellow cards. Brazil has found a way through so far, and maybe the momentum gained from playing the World Cup at home is all it takes to push Brazil through to the final.
I don’t think so.
In my initial bracket I had Brazil going out in the Round of 16. I didn’t see them getting past Chile because, I think, Brazil have played poorly. To get past Chile, Brazil had to take it to penalty kicks, and there, all bets are off. Anything can happen in a PK shootout, and what happened in that PK shootout was Julio Ceasar came off his line and blocked a shot.
I expected Brazil to beat Colombia because Colombia had not had a rough path to the quarterfinals.
Now Brazil will play the toughest opponent they’ve faced so far, and they’ll do it without their goal scorer Neymar and their captain Silva.
Even with Neymar and Silva, I would not expect Brazil to advance past Germany.
Germany have been good throughout the World Cup. They haven’t been great in most of their matches, but they have been steady and composed. They have done enough.
Expect Germany to have a stellar performance.
The Germans took third place in 2006 and 2010. Do not expect them to settle for playing for third place again. This is a very, very good team. They will score goals. They will defend like a solid wall.
It will be a good game (we’re talking about the semifinals of the World Cup). Brazil and Germany play very different styles of soccer, and it will be fun to watch the disciplined Germans against the creative Brazilians, but ultimately I see Germany going on to the final and Brazil playing Argentina for third place.
Holland vs. Argentina (7/9 4 p.m. est)
The other semifinal match is just like the first. The disciplined Dutch against the creative South Americans. But you saw this match up when the Netherlands played Costa Rica. The Costa Ricans never had anything in the game. Possession, shots – it all went to the Dutch.
Granted, Costa Rica defended well and played Holland to a draw and the game had to be decided by penalty kicks, but you’ve got to believe with three shots off the post and one curling off a defender the Dutch were unlucky not to finish that game in regulation time.
You also saw a preview of this match when Argentina played Belgium. Argentina bested Belgium by a goal, but Belgium was never out of the game.
The Netherlands must finish better than they have been. They won’t be able to waste opportunities, and a one-goal advantage will never be enough until the referee blows the final whistle because Messi is always a threat.
But I predicted a Germany-Netherlands final for World Cup 2014, and I have seen nothing to make me back off of that.
The Americas have been very good in this World Cup. Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, the United States – all underdog nations that performed better than expected and went father than expected.
Brazil and Argentina, though certainly not underdogs, went farther than I thought they would go. I never felt that Brazil was playing up to their level of talent, but they have managed to find a way through at each point, and that’s all that matters. Argentina must be grateful for Messi.
But I fully expect to see a European final again this year.