Now or never: BRA vs. GER – ARG vs. NED

Does latest news on the all-star Neymar mark the end of Brazil’s journey? As the quarter finals were wrapped up this past weekend, games will not be forgotten. The Netherland’s nerve racking performance against Costa Rica in a shootout, to Brazil’s tragedy involving Neymar were games that kept people on their seats. Not one game had a bigger difference than a goal and they were all competitive games to lead into the Semis. To start off, we talk about the powerhouse side of the bracket with home country Brazil and dominant Germany. Who has the better chance at the title?

Germany had a close match up against the French with the game being near even. As most of us could’ve foreseen, Germany took the game outscoring France by one goal in a nail biter ending 1-0. The Germans had to battle more than they have all tournament with over half a dozen players coming down with the flu only a day before this match. The French took this news with great joy and excitement as they go against the feared German team. France outshot Germany 13-8 but fell short to the goaltender, Manuel Neuer. This fantastic performance will boost confidence for Neuer as he takes on Brazil. Neuer also has a huge load off his shoulders with Brazil’s stud out for the remainder of the tournament due to an injury.

Young Neymar suffered an injury Saturday that left the home country in a gut wrenching feeling. As the match was coming to a close, with Brazil having dominated the field, Neymar goes down and was not getting up. As he had been going for a ball, Colombian foe was doing the same. He planted a knee into the back of Neymar which ended up being a fractured vertebrae. To me, this injury was easily preventable and was a shot at Brazilians star. Was the injury intended to be so severe? Odds are no, but the outcome cannot be changed.

Germany’s midfielder, Bastian Schweinsteiger said this in a press conference. “It’s always better when the opponent have all their best players, besides it’ll bring the (Brazil) team together and they’ll want to win the title for him (Neymar)”. Teammate of Neymar, Willian, followed Bastian’s comment by saying “Neymar sets the standard for us. He is capable of deciding any game, so playing without him will be difficult”. These players show great admiration and respect for Neymar and even though they will not get the ideal match up they want, this will be a thriller of a game.

Brazil is still hungrier than ever to get to the title game, despite having lost their leading goal scorer and heart of the team. Players like Luiz and Silva are more than ready to step up against Germany as they ignited their team with the two goals in the Colombian game. Luiz had an absolute firecracker on a free kick. The shot came from half way between the goalkeeper and midfield where he absolutely sniped Colombians goaltender, David Ospina. This game between arguably the best South American and European team will be the game of the year in my eyes. History between these two are in favor of the Brazilians. They have played a total of sixteen matches. Twelve in favor of Brazil behind thirty-nine goals, to Germany’s four wins and twenty-four goals. Coach Joachim LOEW and his unbeaten squad look for vengeance for this past, and are determined to take down Brazil. Even with Neymar out, I look for the home team to come out on top for a thirteenth time.

On the other side of the bracket lies a pair of unbeaten teams as well. Lionel Messi leads the Argentinians to face the Dutch. The Netherlands were nearly eliminated in the quarters in what would have been a huge upset for the Costa Ricans. If you were watching this game you would have seen a clear domination in favor of the Netherlands. They took 20 shots and landed 15 of them but Costa Rican goaltender was a brick wall and didn’t allow a single ball past him. As the nerves heightened through the match, leading into OT, Dutch fans couldn’t help but bite their nails and pray that one of the few shots taken by the Costa Ricans wouldn’t go in. Luckily, none did and this game went into a shootout.

Lining up for their kicks, it was clear that both teams were drained. You could see the single droplets of sweat drop form their faces. Their chests beating with exhaustion and heart beating intensely as they knew that the winning ball could be in front of them. Both teams nailed their first shots but followed with a miss by tournament goal leader Bryan Ruiz. The next five shots fired were goals as well and came down to Michael Umana for Costa Rica. The score was tallied at 4-3 and I thought this could be the one. This could be the deciding goal as all the pressure was dropped on this young soccer player. He lined up the kick, took his step and took off for the ball. It was miss. This gave the game to the Dutch where they advance to take on Argentina, one of the favorites for the title.

Talking about the defensive aspect of the game, these tables give a good sense as to how well their defense and goaltenders rank. The table to the left displays the shots against vs the saves made. This shows how strongly the defense is playing for each team. The less amount of shots against, the greater success rate. It also gives us an idea of how the goal keepers are playing by giving us a save percentage which is shown in the purple graph below. These numbers are brought up by taking the saved shots and dividing them by how many shots are faced total. The higher the number, the better your keeper is playing.

Golden Boot contender, and now favorite to wield it, Lionel Messi and his entourage of Argentinians prepare for Robin van Persie and the Netherlands. This game will be a very close match up as well. Both teams have battled every match and have moved on by only a single goal so far in bracket play. In my opinion, Argentina has this game in the bag. With the long battle the Dutch had against a weaker opponent, I don’t see them being able to keep with the fast pace of the Argentinian team.

Only time will tell if this year’s cup is going to be a battle between two European teams, two South American teams or a grudge match between the two. All four remanding teams have not lost and don’t intend to by any means. Kick off starts July 9th with the thrilling game of Brazil and Germany followed by the 10th with the opposing game of Argentina and Netherlands. We look at some statistics from this year’s Cup of the final four to try and predict a winner that triumphs over the rest.

Tallied for an offensive perspective of the teams are goals, shots attempted, shots on target and a shot percentage to show the exact number for how many shots are on target. Following that depicts the goaltending side which is also a reflection of how good these teams are doing defensively as well. The numbers shown here are shots faced by the goaltender that were on target, the amount of saves made (shots minus total goals given up) and the save percentage for the teams goaltending.

The first graph on the left displays offensive statistics depicting total shots attempted in blue, attempted shots that landed on the goalie in red and the amount of goals scored in yellow. Following this graph, in lime green, shows the other half of this stat in showing the shot percentages. This is the number is brought to light by diving total shots by attempts on target.

By going off research of the cup, viewing experience of this year’s tournament and help through outside sources my prediction for who reigns as champion comes from whoever wins the Brazil and Germany game. Germany’s power and force would be enough to beat the Netherlands and Argentina in my opinion. If Brazil is to win this round, the momentum would be enough to carry them to what is already so close to yet another title. They have the mindset to take it for their home crowd so they are my favorite to take it all.

Along with all this, speculation is surrounding Neymar and his possible return for the finals game if they proceed to that stage. One last thing worth mentioning to add is the appeal for leader Thiago Silva. Silva was handed his second yellow card in two games which results in a one game suspension. Brazil is looking to appeal this card to revoke the suspension and suit Silva up to take the field against Germany.

Going off the numbers displayed in the tables, utilizing software developed by our very own Yellowfin team, I still go with Brazil. Their offensive presence is clear by claiming a spot in the top half of nearly every category in the first two graphs. Even with the absence of Neymar, this team will find a way to fill in and be the offensive power house they truly are year after year. Although their goaltending is lacking compared to the other three teams, I believe they have the skill to change that around. Especially with the thought of no Neymar to come back to help like he does so often. You can’t pick a better home team to rally and win in this sport!

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