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Brazil, without Neymar, is the unlikely underdog
If he scores, Klose becomes highest goal scorer in Cup history
Brazil has committed more fouls than any other team
Referee for match is the man who didn't notice Suarez bite
This is where it gets really interesting.
If your interest in the World Cup died with your ousted team’s dreams, do reconsider. Because, boy, will you be treated to some fancy footwork today.
Brazil vs. Germany in the semi-finals. It doesn’t get any more exciting than that. (Well, until tomorrow, when Argentina takes on the Netherlands.)
The only time the two nations met at a World Cup was in the finals in 2002. Brazil won 2-0.
But this time, Brazil is the unlikely underdog facing the very real possibility of being booted from a World Cup in their own front yard.
Its goal-scoring talisman, Neymar, is out with a fractured vertebra. And its key defender and captain, Thiago Silva, is out on a second yellow card. (If you get two, you automatically miss the next game).
The Germans, on the other hand, are on a tear. They have efficiently decimated their opponents, and they seem to be getting better and better with every match.
Here are 5 things you should know about today’s matchup:
1. It’s Muller time
Neymar’s gone. Portugal’s Ronaldo is gone. Colombia’s James Rodriguez is gone. Germany’s Thomas Muller may very well emerge as the best player in this tournament. With his power and pace, Muller’s scored four goals and helped with two more so far.
Fun fact: Back home, Muller stars in a yoghurt commercial for, what else, Mullermilch.
2. Getting Klose-r to a record
Let’s not forget that other German dynamo, Miroslav Klose. He’s scored at least one goal in the last four World Cup tournaments (only two other players can boast that). And if he scores today, he becomes the most prolific goal scorer in World Cup history with 16. He’s tied with Brazil’s Ronaldo at the moment.
Fun fact: Ronaldo scored his 15th goal against Ghana in Germany. Klose scored his 15th goal against Ghana, in Brazil.
3. Don’t rule out the one-name wonders
Brazil has held up the World Cup trophy more times than anyone else (five). And the ugly, uber-physical game it played against Colombia showed that it will do whatever it takes to get that trophy. It has committed more fouls than any other team (96) and, according to a Forbes analysis, faked the most injuries.
While Neymar won’t be there, Brazil will have the home crowd acting as its 12th man. And it still has two formidable attackers in Fred and Hulk (yes, he’s named after the comic book character).
Fun fact: So many Brazilian players go by one name because that’s just the convention in the country. Even the former President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was known by his nickname Lula.
4. Keep an eye on the keepers
Germany’s Manuel Neuer has been unbelievable, charging out of his box to clear ball after ball. He’s only allowed in 3 goals in 5 matches. Brazil’s goalie Julio Cesar has yet to concede more than one goal in any game. Those who say he isn’t the player he once was were silenced when he saved two penalties against Chile and helped Brazil advance.
Fun fact: Neuer won $680,000 in the German version of “Who Wants to be Millionaire?”
5. A word on the card-carrier
The man refereeing the match will be Marco Antonio Rodriguez, the same guy who failed to see – or punish – Urguay’s Luis Suarez when he chomped down on the shoulder of Italian defender Girgio Chiellini. Otherwise, Rodriguez came into the tournament as the most card-happy official. He sent off 51 players in 70 matches. (At the World Cup, he red-carded Italy’s Claudio Marchisio.)
Fun fact: In Mexico, Rodriguez is known as “Dracula” for his apparent resemblance to the actor who plays the character in a TV show there.