Monday,24 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1205, (10 - 16 July 2014)
Monday,24 September, 2018
Issue 1205, (10 - 16 July 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Who will win?

No surprises in the World Cup semi-finals, but it is still hard to predict who can carry the gold. Ahmed Hamdi analyses

Al-Ahram Weekly

It has come to a fifty-fifty chance — South America versus Europe in the World Cup semi-finals. However, it is no surprise that the two biggest continents in football are splitting the chances to win the gold.

Three out of the four finalists are former winners. Brazil is a 5-time world champion, while Germany is a 3-time champion. Argentina, as well, has won the gold twice before. Holland, on the other hand, is the only team that did not ever hold the cup despite playing the final three times. Some even say that Holland is the most unlucky team to ever play in the World Cup.

On their way to the semi-finals, all four teams have finished the group stage in the current World Cup in the first place, as Brazil played against Chile in the second round, barely qualifying to the quarter-finals, after a 3-2 win in penalty shootouts. The host country went on to face Colombia to again get a close win 2-1, but the win did not come without sacrifices and severe loses.

The team captain and alpha defender, Thiago Silva, received his second yellow card, to be suspended from the semi-finals match, while the team’s number one star, Neymar, suffered a severe back injury that ended his World Cup journey earlier than his teammates.

Brazil qualified to face Germany, which qualified as well to the semi-finals after beating Algeria in the second round 2-1 after an extra time, then sending the French home with a 1-0 victory in the quarter finals.

The German team has not had the best matches since the knockout stage, but still can be very dangerous. The chances Germany wins the World Cup are very high just if they pass through the unconvincing Brazil. However, Brazil will have the biggest chance among all four teams in the semi-finals in winning the cup, if they qualify to the final. The emotional push Brazil will get from its fans and the advantage of playing on their field can carry the yellow team to the cup despite the absence of Neymar. Silva, on the other hand, will return to play the final if they qualify.  

Holland, though, will be expected to break their bad luck streak in the World Cup finals, in case they reach it. The oranges beat the resilient Mexico in the round of 16 to play against the biggest surprise of the tournament, Costa Rica, which gave the Dutch team a hard time as well, to finally lose in the penalty shootouts. Arjan Robben and his teammates will have to find a way to beat Argentina, though, before dreaming of winning the golden prize.

Argentina, even though it will be missing one of their best players, Angel Di Maria, everyone will be depending on the multi-time best player in the world award winner, Lionel Messi, to lead the team to the long missed trophy. Argentina had not given the best performance in the World Cup, beating Switzerland in the round of 16 by a single goal just two minutes before the end of the extra time.

The Latin team needed just another goal to eliminate Belgium in the quarterfinals. Argentina has won all its matches in the international tournament with just one goal difference, giving an indication that the attackers were not very sharp on goal. It is something that they must avoid if they want to bring the third trophy back to Buenos Aires.

The winner of the Holland vs Argentina semi-finals match is less likely to win the trophy, however, players like Messi in Argentina and Robben in Holland can make a big difference and flip the table upside down.

Germany, on the contrary, is a team that knows how to get the job done. In case they reach the final, the advantage will be all theirs. On the other hand, Brazil will go to the final, in case they beat Germany, with the hope of erasing the bad memory of 1950, when they lost the World Cup final against Uruguay in the same stadium.

This year’s final will be hosted at the famous Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

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