World Rank #3
Brazil have had a challenging trip to the semi-finals. They knocked off two way talent Chile, with the likes of Vidal, Sanchez. And a brilliant Columbia team lead by rising star James Rodriquez. Besides a few moments in the group stages, Brazil have appeared unorganized, and lacking conviction. Still this team has more technical ability than any of the remaining squads, and with the pride of a nation on its back, they will be hard to beat.
Key Player: David Luiz
Neymar’s injury did more than take out Brazils biggest offensive threat, it hurt the passion and heart of this team. The pressure on Neymar, before his premature exit, must fall onto someone else’s shoulders. David Luiz is the man that will be called upon to carry this team. A charismatic, center back with an infinite amount of energy, Luiz will need two quality games if this team wants to lift the world cup on home soil.
Will win if: Play a more fluid game
There is a fear of losing that brazil has played with since exiting the group stage. They play a conservative game, and let their opponent do too much going forward. Brazil must spread the field more, and attack early and often. If brazil can play with the confidence that they are the best team on the field, they might just be.
World Rank #2
Germany have stumbled their way into the semi finals, for the fourth straight world cup. Prior to a lackluster and dull 1-0 win against France, where the side looked uninspired, they struggled against Algeria in the round of 16, taking the full 120 minutes to do away with the north african side. The german side is packed with talent, and the core of this team play with each other at the club level for Bayern Munich. To many, this squad has been favored up to this point.
Key Player: Thomas Mueller
The world cup brings out the best in certain players. One of those players is Bayern Munich’s attacking midfielder, Thomas Mueller. Mueller has 9 world cup goals in 11 matches, and provides a spark when this German team seem to be dragging themselves along. And with Ozil out of form and Schweinsteiger struggling for fitness, the pressure is on Mueller to provide goals for this german side in their final games of this world cup.
Will win if: They can figure out how to maximize the talent on the pitch.
Germany have the deepest squad in this world cup. So deep that you have to question what the best team available really is. Lahm is playing out of position as a holding mid, and there is no sure fire attacking option. Once this squad is comfortable together, they will be nearly unbeatable on the world stage. The question is, will that be figured out in the coming days?
World Rank #15
The Dutch seemed to shock everyone by absolutely thrashing defending champions, Spain, in their world cup opener, and they continued to impress through the group stage, proving critics wrong who said they wouldn’t be able to get out of their group. But it took a savvy and controversial call to see the Dutch through to the quarterfinals, where they looked horrible against Costa Rica at times. It is safe to say the dutch have cooled off considerably since the first game over 2 weeks ago.
Key Player Arjen Robben
The player of the tournament for the Netherlands by far has been Arjen Robben. He is playing with more confidence than anyone at this world cup. Robben can terrorize a defense. He has both the speed to spread a defense out and the dribbling ability to cause it to cluster and leave his teammates open. Until he runs into a superior defense, he will be able to capitalize on this movement five or six times per game. To be sure, though, the other remaining teams all have world class defenses that will be able to cut down Robben’s runs to the outside, as well as prevent him from dribbling in and out of the box.
Will Win if: Robert Van Persie and Huntelaar can produce goals. RVP still has not scored a goal for the Dutch outside of the group stage. If these next defenses they face successfully shut down Robben, it will be up to the two dutch poachers to score goals. This is a team that will need to out gun its remaining opponents to come out on top.
World Rank #5
Argentina has lost in the quarterfinals each of the past 2 world cups. But this team is different. They have finally broken through to the semifinals with a fairly impressive victory against Belgium. This team boasts one of, if not the, best defense in this world cup, but they struggle to score goals. Aguero’s absence has been noticeable, as Argentina have struggled to win convincingly in the knockout stages. One has to wonder how Argentina will be able to keep up with an offense good enough to break them down and score goals.
Key Player: Lionel Messi
Arguably the best player of the tournament, Messi has truly carried this team to the semifinals. Even when Messi isn’t adding to the goal total, he is drawing the attention of everyone on the field, earning fouls and maintaining possession. He is a threat to any team in the world and can change the game at any moment.
Will Win if: The unit can produce goals.
Messi can not win the world cup on his own, but Argentina certainly has the talent to win it themselves. Higuain has to step up and show that he can score big goals, like he did in the quarter finals vs Belgium.