TIME world cup 2014

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

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

The pre-tournament favorite Brazil isn't playing much like it at the moment. Here's why Brazil could lose the in the World Cup 2014 semifinals to Germany.

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.

TIME

U.S. Will Play for Quarterfinals for the First Time Since 2002

The Americans try to reach the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 2002 when they play Belgium on Tuesday.

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(SALVADOR, Brazil) — They know the eyes of the United States will be on them from thousands of miles away, and they say they are ready.

The Americans try to reach the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 2002 when they play Belgium on Tuesday.

“For some of the guys, it’s the last opportunity, so we have to make the most of it,” U.S. captain Clint Dempsey said. “And I’m sure if we play to the best of our ability, we’ll get a positive result.”

There were two bits of news on the eve of the match. Jozy Altidore has recovered sufficiently from his left hamstring strain to be available, although it appears he is unlikely to start. The forward has not played since the Americans’ June 16 opener, when he was taken off on a stretcher during the first half.

“Just having him with us tomorrow is huge,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said Monday, adding Altidore’s time on the field depends on “how much work is in his legs.”

Klinsmann created a stir by saying he isn’t happy with FIFA’s choice of referee, Algeria’s Djamel Haimoudi. His nation was eliminated by the U.S. in 2010, and Algeria played in the same first-round group as Belgium.

“Is it a good feeling? No,” Klinsmann said at a news conference.

Belgium coach Marc Wilmots dismissed Klinsmann’s comments, saying: “If we start going into this, it is looking for excuses ahead of the match.”

The United States and Belgium haven’t played in the World Cup since the first tournament in 1930, a 3-0 win by the Americans.

A lot more people are following now. The U.S. averaged more than 18 million viewers on ESPN and Spanish-language Univision for its three first-round games, and viewing parties are scheduled for Tuesday ranging from Solider Field in Chicago to Veteran’s Park in Redondo Beach, California.

“The country is paying attention in a way that it’s never done before, and we have a chance to make some history,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said.

President Barack Obama even watched last week from Air Force One.

A victory against Belgium would put the U.S. in a Saturday quarterfinal against Argentina or Switzerland. With kickoff at 4 p.m. EDT, people are expected to leave work early, take extended lunch breaks and sneak looks at online streams from their mobile phones and office desktops.

“It means a lot to us, the energy that comes from the United States,” said Klinsmann, the former German star striker who moved to California in 1998. “You see where the game is going in the United States. You can’t stop it anymore. It’s breaking through.”

The 13th-ranked Americans are in the knockout rounds of consecutive World Cups for the first time. Belgium, ranked 11th after missing the last two World Cups, has won three straight games at soccer’s showcase for the first time.

But the Red Devils are banged up. Central defender Vincent Kompany (strained left groin) is questionable and left back Thomas Vermaelen (right hamstring) is out. Midfielders Moussa Dembele and Marouane Fellaini — known for his mop of bushy dark hair — have been slowed by calf injuries.

Fellaini is a former Everton teammate of American goalkeeper Tim Howard, who played with Belgian forwards Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas last season. Howard is also familiar with Eden Hazard, who was criticized for his play during the first round despite setting up go-ahead goals against Russia and Algeria.

“Probably one of the best players in the Premier League,” Howard said. “He’s shifty. He’s crafty. He’s everything you want in a winner.”

Dempsey, 31, and 32-year-old defender DaMarcus Beasley are unlikely to be on the 2018 roster. Howard, 35, hasn’t committed to another four-year cycle.

“I’m not at all sure it’s his last World Cup,” Gulati said.

Belgium is quite familiar with Klinsmann: He scored in Germany’s 3-2 win over Belgium at Chicago’s Soldier Field in the second round of the 1994 World Cup.

Klinsmann and Wilmots are friends, too. They had scheduled a training session between the teams June 12, but Wilmots called it off because he didn’t want to get caught in Sao Paulo’s traffic jams.

Last year, Belgium overwhelmed the U.S. 4-2 in an exhibition at Cleveland. But friendlies are different.

The Americans know they have to boost their offense, which was next to last in attacks during the first round.

“It’s all about who wants it more,” Beasley said. “You can’t leave anything on the field for these type of games.”

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