Brazil and Germany clash on Tuesday in Belo Horizonte in their World Cup semifinals. The battle lines have been drawn and these are the eight key players who will be watched keenly;
Germany defender Mats Hummels v Brazil forward Fred:
Mats Hummels, the Germany’s central defender will have to face it off with Brazils forward Fred at one end of the pitch. Fred will have an additional burden because of the absence of Neymar.
Fred has just managed to see the net once and has faced a lot of criticism for his failure to score more goals as Brazil’s sole center forward.
And with Neymar missing, a lot will be expected from the 30-year-old Fred. Hummels will have to keep him tethered even if he is far less effective than a few years ago.
Germany striker Miroslav Klose v Brazil defender Dante:
It will be interesting to watch how the central defender, Dante will be shouldering the burden of responsibility in Brazil’s backline in the absence of Thiago Silva.
And he will be against Miroslav Klose, the best German striker in the last 15 years. Dante is expected to rely a lot on his experience with German football since for the past five seasons he has been playing in the Bundesliga
Klose, who does not need a lot of space to hurt opponents, will test Dante’s pace and ability to read the game. The 36-year-old is chasing a record 16th world cup goal. If Germans are hoping to advance to the World Cup final, Klose’s goal prowess will be needed.
Klose has performed exemplary well in the quarter finals, but Dante being quicker than Luiz should be able to cope better with Klose’s threat.
Germany defender Benedikt Hoewedes v Brazil midfielder Hulk:
Germany defender Benedikt Hoewedes will have an uphill task standing against the athletic Brazil’s midfielder Hulk. Even though Hoewedes is a trained central defender he has been successfully deployed as full back in this tournament.
Hoewedes does not contribute to launching quick breaks. He also remains a far more defensive fullback than Lahm and must therefore be at the top of his game to march Hulk’s power and speed.
Hulk may try to lure him too far out of position and this is what he should avoid at all costs. Hulk often switches sides, is powerful and quick. He is the major challenge for Hoewedes who lacks the Brazilian’s pace and strength.
Germany defender Phillip Lahm v Brazil midfielder Oscar:
Oscar will also have to bear the burden of Neymar’s absence. He will come up against one of the best right backs in the World Cup, Philip Lahm. Lahm reverted back to his fullback duties midway through the tournament after shortly trying at the midfield unsuccessfully.
Lahm will test Oscar’s quick pace and skills with his added attacking impetus. Oscar will have to be fully alert if he has to keep Lahm in check.
Generally, the Brazilian team has been weakened by the absence of both Neymar and Thiago Silva and the Germans will hope to take advantage of this.