Brazil v Colombia: Quarter Final - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
Neymar lies injured while Marcelo shows concern looking over him during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Quarter Final match between Brazil and Colombia at Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil on July 4, 2014. Lars Baron—FIFA/Getty Images

5 Reasons Brazil Will Lose to Germany (and 3 Reasons It Won’t)

Jul 07, 2014

The World Cup reaches the semifinals this week, starting with Germany taking on host Brazil. A day later, Argentina faces the Netherlands. Although the pre-tournament favorite, Brazil hasn't done much to back up that designation. Here's why it could be the end of the road for the Seleção.

1) No-Mar
With Neymar out of the World Cup with a fractured vertebra, the Brazilians not only have lost their best scorer, they’ve lost their talisman, and to some degree their hope. Neymar was willing to put Brazil on his back and carry it. He’s a player whose value extends beyond his incredible skills. And with Thiago Silva suspended because of his own stupidity in getting a second yellow card, Brazil has lost its defensive anchor, too.

2) Brazil’s strikers need to add a syllable (and some goals)
Fred. Hulk. Jo. Brazilian players often go by one name—Pele, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho—but its current crop of monosyllabic frontrunners have come up short on goals. Buy a vowel. That’s why players such as Willian and Ramires need to step in Neymar’s absence.

3) The team is mediocre
It may be the worst thing you can say about Brazil, but it's what Colombia’s players remarked after the game against them—which Colombia lost 2-1 on two set pieces rather than from the run of play. Mexico players were likewise unimpressed after El Tri’s scoreless draw with the Seleção. The magic that marked great Brazilian teams—when three or four players could each do amazing things— is missing from this outfit. Even worse: teams no longer fear Brazil. Germany certainly won’t be intimidated.

4) Brazil is playing like a team that’s afraid of losing
There’s more pressure on this team than any team in the history of football. How could it not get to them? In fact, it has. Neymar’s loss gives Brazil’s team a soul-saving excuse should it lose to Germany, not exactly a motivating thought.

5) Germany isn’t Colombia
Or even Mexico, and that’s not a good thing. Brazil thrives in a wide-open, up-and-down game. Germany is not likely to allow that kind of freedom, as it showed against France. If the Germans cut down on the space, Brazil is going to find it awfully tough going. So are the spectators.

And here, three reasons not to give up on Brazil

1) It got to the semis, didn't it?
Brazil has won 4 games and tied one, and although none of those results have been pretty to watch, the team has managed to find a way to progress. Against Colombia, it found a way through a corner kick and a piece of powerful artistry from David Luiz on a magnificent free kick.

2) Again, Germany isn’t Colombia.
Or even Mexico, and that’s a good thing. The Germans have looked less impressive with each subsequent game after pole-axing a weak Portuguese team in their opening match. Against France, it reverted to a circa 1986 model of play, with lots of possession in the back and little going forward. And the winning goal? A header by one of its giant backs after winning a free kick. Boring old Germany.

3) It’s the World Cup and it’s in Brazil.
The script has been written, and Brazil just has to play to play its part. Certainly, the crowd at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte is going to turn the joint into a noise avalanche. Brazil’s players just need to ride it to victory.

32 Most Memorable Moments of the 2014 FIFA World Cup

Brazil's Fred sits on the pitch as Croatian players Vedran Corluka, Dejan Lovren and Ivan Rakitic protest after the referee called a penalty against Croatia during the group A World Cup soccer match in the opening game of the tournament at Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo on June 12, 2014.
Brazil's Fred sits on the pitch as Croatian players Vedran Corluka, Dejan Lovren and Ivan Rakitic protest after the referee called a penalty against Croatia during the group A World Cup soccer match in the opening game of the tournament at Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo on June 12, 2014.Frank Augstein—AP
Brazil's Fred sits on the pitch as Croatian players Vedran Corluka, Dejan Lovren and Ivan Rakitic protest after the referee called a penalty against Croatia during the group A World Cup soccer match in the opening game of the tournament at Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo on June 12, 2014.
Robin van Persie of the Netherlands scores the teams first goal with a diving header in the first half during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.
Costa Rica's Joel Campbell celebrates with the match ball after scoring against Uruguay during their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match at the Castelao stadium in Fortaleza on June 14, 2014.
Masato Morishige and Yuto Nagatomo of Japan challenge Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between the Ivory Coast and Japan at Arena Pernambuco on June 14, 2014 in Recife, Brazil.
Honduras' goalkeeper Noel Valladares bundles a shot from France's Karim Benzema, far right, into his net for an own goal during the group E World Cup soccer match between France and Honduras at the Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre, Brazil on June 15, 2014.
Thomas Mueller of Germany shoots and scores his team's fourth goal and completes his hat trick past Rui Patricio of Portugal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Germany and Portugal at Arena Fonte Nova on June 16, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.
Pepe of Portugal argues with Thomas Müller of Germany and gives him a headbutt during to the FIFA World Cup 2014 group G preliminary round match between Germany and Portugal at the Arena Fonte Nova Stadium in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil on June 16, 2014.
Referee Milorad Mazic uses vanishing spray to mark where the Germany wall must stand for a Portugal free kick during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Germany and Portugal at Arena Fonte Nova.
Clint Dempsey of the United States reacts after scoring his team's first goal past goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey of Ghana during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Ghana and the United States at Estadio das Dunas on June 16, 2014 in Natal, Brazil.
Igor Akinfeev of Russia fails to save a shot by Lee Keun-Ho of South Korea for South Korea's first goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group H match between Russia and South Korea at Arena Pantanal on June 17, 2014 in Cuiaba, Brazil.
Guillermo Ochoa of Mexico makes a save after a header by Thiago Silva of Brazil during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A match between Brazil and Mexico at Castelao on June 17, 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil.
Australia v Netherlands: Group B - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
Match highlights are screened after the 2014 World Cup Group B soccer match between Spain and Chile at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on June 18, 2014.
Uruguay's Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the group D World Cup soccer match between Uruguay and England at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil on June 19, 2014.
Lionel Messi of Argentina shoots and scores his team's first goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group F match between Argentina and Iran at Estadio Mineirao on June 21, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Germany's Miroslav Klose celebrates after scoring against Ghana during their 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match at the Castelao arena in Fortaleza, Brazil on June 21, 2014.
US goalkeeper Tim Howard reacts after a goal from Portugal's forward Silvestre Varela during a Group G match between USA and Portugal at the Amazonia Arena in Manau. Brazil during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 22, 2014.
Spain's David Villa scores the team's first goal during the group B World Cup soccer match between Australia and Spain at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil on June 23, 2014.
Brazil's Neymar shoots to score against Cameroon during their 2014 World Cup Group A soccer match at the Brasilia national stadium in Brasilia, Brazil on June 23, 2014.
Mexico's coach Miguel Herrera celebrates Andres Guardado's goal during their 2014 World Cup Group A soccer match at the Pernambuco arena in Recife, Brazil on June 23, 2014.
Giorgio Chiellini claims he was bitten by Uruguay's Luis Suarez during the FIFA World Cup 2014 group D preliminary round match between Italy and Uruguay at the Estadio Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil on June 24, 2014.
Soccer Fans Gather To Watch US v Germany World Cup Match
Mauricio Pinilla of Chile shoots and hits the cross bar as goalkeeper Julio Cesar of Brazil looks on during the match between Brazil and Chile at Estadio Mineirao on June 28, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Colombia's James Rodriguez scores a goal past Uruguay's Diego Godin, Alvaro Pereira, and Egidio Arevalo Rios during their game at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on June 28, 2014.
Rafael Marquez gets called for a foul against Arjen Robben of the Netherlands in the box during the match between the Netherlands and Mexico at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil on June 29, 2014.
Theofanis Gekas of Greece hits the post during a shootout in the match between Costa Rica and Greece at Arena Pernambuco on June 29, 2014 in Recife, Brazil.
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Goalkeeper Krul of the Netherlands makes a save on a shot at goal by Costa Rica's Umana during a penalty shootout in their 2014 World Cup quarter-finals at the Fonte Nova arena in Salvador
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Brazil's Fred sits on the pitch as Croatian players Vedran Corluka, Dejan Lovren and Ivan Rakitic protest after the refe
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Frank Augstein—AP
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