The only fixture between these sides previously in a World Cup tournament was in the 2002 Final held at the International Stadium in Yokohama. The Brazilians triumphed with two goals from Ronaldo scored in the 67th and 79th minutes as the country won their fifth World Cup. For the hosts the big question is how they cope without the injured Neymar and the suspended Thiago Silva. It might allow others to step up to take centre-stage or could leave Brazil without inspiration and leadership. If it does the Germans will look to exploit this weakness. Germany coach Joachim Loew has not been afraid to change his starting line-up and formations during this tournament.
The substitution by Dutch coach Louis van Gaal of goalkeeper Ajax’s Jasper Cillessen with Newcastle United’s Tim Krul for penalties was seen as a tactical master-stroke. The reasoning for the switch was that Krul had a better height and reach which could prove crucial in the penalty shoot-out. And of course as we know, the Dutch No: 2 became the hero as he saved two of the Costa Rican penalties.
As West Germany these two teams have met in three World Cup tournaments. The first was in 1958 when in the Third Place Play-off game France emerged winners 6-3. The next encounter in 1982 was perhaps the most memorable and not only for a dramatic game that after finishing 3-3 saw West Germany win 5-4 on penalties, but for an unpunished ‘assault’ by German keeper on Patrick Battiston that saw the Frenchman injured suffering two missing teeth, three cracked ribs, and damaged vertebrae. The last encounter was in 1986 when in a Semi-Final Germany emerged 2-0 winners with goals from Brehme and Voller.
Overall the last sixteen games have reflected the tournament’s group fixtures with late drama, goals and open play. There have been exceptions though and Argentina v Switzerland last night only sparked into life in the last five minutes of extra-time. However, there was also a great couple of minutes when the Brazilian fans in the crowd got behind the Swiss with chants of “ole, ole” as they strung together a few passes.
Having played in goal over the years I tend to focus on the men between the sticks when I watch a game. To me it is the position with the biggest responsibility as any mistakes are generally fatal for a team.