The Telegraph
Tuesday , July 8 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Putting my money on Germany

Brazil vs Germany… A mouthwatering semi-final clash and I am as excited as the rest of the world. It’s advantage Germany, not because of Neymar’s absence. Overall Germany to me looked more adventurous yet solid and confident than Brazil. If there were Neymar and suspended captain Thiago Silva, still I would have put my money on Germany.

The Germans were rattled by the Algerians to some extent in the second round, but against France in the quarters they came out all guns blazing.

Mat Hummels, Mesut Ozil, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Mueller all played their part to the T. Captain Philipp Lahm was used as a right back instead of midfield and he also was up to the challenge.

The new age Germans have done away with their rigid idea of football. Instead they have embraced a more open game where they like to pass around the ball. This started when Jurgen Klinsmann took over before 2006 and that has been continued under Joachim Loew. In fact, Loew has gone one step forward and smoothly amalgamated Pep Guadiola’s idea of football.

And herein Mesut Ozil comes into the picture. He hasn’t been in best of form for his club Arsenal, but Loew has given him the confidence. He is in the middle of a very good tournament even though his contribution to the team’s performance has gone unnoticed.

A player who is not in the best of form needs the confidence of his coach and Loew has given him just that.

Ozil also in return has repaid that faith. On Tuesday at Belo Horizonte much will depend on how Ozil orchestrates the moves from the middle.

I feel sad for Neymar. The poster boy of World Cup 2014 is out with a broken vertebra and this is something I am finding difficult to come to terms with even now. Colombian Juan Camilo Zuniga should pay the price for such a tackle. Surprisingly the referees are not being able to spot most of the incidents in this World Cup. Whether its Luis Suarez’s bit or this unwanted tackle, the referees have failed to deliver.

But if you look at things dispassionately, Neymar hasn’t been able to deliver in the knock-out stages.

Agreed he is the face of this Brazilian team and got four goals under his belt, still I expected Neymar to be more creative and proactive in the knock-out stages.

More than Neymar’s injury, it’s Thiago Silva’s absence in the heart of defence that will hurt Brazil. Silva, the captain, has been a rock in the Brazilian defence and David Luiz complemented him well.

Silva has been consistent and to Luiz Felipe Scolari he is like what Franco Baresi was to Arrigo Sacchi. I am not exaggerating.

With no Neymar and Silva, it’s time for the others to stand up and be counted. Hulk is trying his best. In fact, to me he is the most impressive Brazilian upfront. The same cannot be said Fred who seems to be struggling in his new role as a provider. Now with no Neymar, Fed may take a more predatory role and that will be something interesting.

The German defence at times were caught napping. So I will be watching with interest how Fred capitalises on that frailty.

Talking about all those stories of 1962, please don’t tell me about the Pele injury. Pele tore a thigh muscle midway through the first half of Brazil’s second game in Chile, a goalless draw against the Czechs. But Brazil went onto win their second World Cup in a row.

It was 1962 and football’s perspective was completely different.

If Brazil do go to Maracana it will be because of this bunch of players and their pride and belief in themselves. There will not be any inspiration or anything.

This match is something different. Pressure, expectations and more...