It is really a shame that the mood ahead of the semifinal matches has been dampened by the serious injury to Neymar, by far the most prominent player of host Brazil.

And with captain Thiago Silva having to sit out due to his second yellow card, Brazil will be missing its two best players in the semifinal against Germany. For once, Brazil would appear to be the outsider — despite its home field advantage.

Now the question is whether this fact might help the Brazilians to free themselves of the immense pressure on them, and play completely liberated, with the reserve players really stepping up to show what they can do. It’s possible, so we’ll see.

Statistics-keepers counted 54 fouls in the Brazil-Colombia match, and many people are all upset about this record. I see things a bit differently. A quarterfinal match at the World Cup is anything but a polite chat over a cup of coffee. No physical contact and no fighting for possession of the ball? That wouldn’t be football!

As regrettable as the broken vertebra of Neymar is, I have a hard time accusing Colombia’s Juan Zuniga of doing it intentionally. He did hit Neymar in the back with his knee, where it certainly doesn’t belong. But to me it looked more like clumsiness. Or maybe my first impression is mistaken. Now FIFA is investigating it.

Brazil’s 2-1 win over Colombia was the Selecao’s best match yet. In the games before-hand, there were too many individual actions, and they ran much too much with the ball. Against Colombia, they played with more single-minded purpose and combined together much better in their passing game.

Well-earned win

I was really thrilled by the Germans in the 1-0 win against their French neighbours. As narrow as the result was, the victory was well-earned.

The Germans were closer to making it 2-0 than the French were at getting the equaliser. Jogi Low’s team plays very cleverly, very intelligently. It does just exactly what it needs to do in order to succeed. And they appear to be capable of stepping their play up yet another notch.

For a long time now the debate has been raging as to whether captain Philipp Lahn should return to his normal right fullback position from the Number 6 role he has been asked to play in midfield. I don’t think this is so decisive, because: when Lahm plays midfield, he is world-class. When he plays defence, he’s also world-class.

The same goes for German keeper Manuel Neuer — no matter whether he’s playing outside the penalty area, on the goal line, or wherever else — he is currently the best ’keeper in the world.

Low’s timing seems to be nearly perfect. A good example is seen in Sami Khedira. When he took the field for Real Madrid in the Champions League final at the end of May, he was naturally not yet in his best form, considering that he was out of action for so long after suffering a torn cruciate ligament last November. Now he is suddenly back, and in the first knock-out match against Algeria he took matters in hand. Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger — that’s a good fit in the German midfield.

Along with Brazil and Germany, we now also have the Netherlands and Argentina in the other semifinal. One could say, the usual suspects. But Costa Rica was so close to achieving the greatest sensation in decades, with the Dutch only going through after a penalty shootout. I am not a prophet, but if Arjen Robben continues to play so brilliantly he — along with Neuer — has the best chances of being named best player of the 2014 World Cup.

As to the Argentineans, there is not much new to report. As usual, they rely heavily on Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain, who scored the only goal of the match in the victory over secret favourites Belgium. And once they score, their philosophy then simply is: everybody back on defence.

So, the four established football nations are meeting in the semifinals.So there will be no further surprises, since each one can defeat the other.

In any event, the suspense remains. — Hawkeye/Chivach Sports

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