Futbol reigns supreme in Brazil. The national team known for its jogo bonito (beautiful game) has advanced to the semi-finals to play Germany, a team they last played and lost to in an international match in 2011. They are 9-0-1 in their last 10 games and have won 42 straight home games since 1992. Germany on the other hand has a record of 7-0-3 in their last 10 games and has the distinction of being the first country to reach 4 World Cup semi-finals in a row. But can they win? The last time they made it to the finals in 2002, they played Brazil and lost. They last won the World Cup in 1990, defeating Argentina, a rematch that is theoretically possible.
Notwithstanding the history, the European, Latin American showdown should be close. Germany remains reasonably healthy, having lost only one player to injury, defender Shkodran Mustafi. Brazil on the other hand will be playing without two of its starting players, Neymar, who fractured a vertebra in the game against Colombia and Silva who was served a one game suspension in the same match. The fact that two of Brazil’s most important players are out may neutralize Brazil’s home field advantage in today’s match in Bello Horizonte, Brasil. May, but will it?
One cannot underestimate the power of the home country advantage and I certainly won’t. In the 19 previous World Cups played, the host country has won 6 times. And that kind of advantage for a powerhouse may be very difficult for Germany to overcome. France was the last host country to win the World Cup back in 1998.
On a personal note, I have the good fortune to be in Rio and to have the option of watching the game where I am staying with family and friends or to go the beach just down the street and watch it with fans who worship soccer as if it were religion. Watching it on the beach would be nice, especially if Brazil wins, but I prefer the comfort of a couch and a big screen TV, as opposed to the sand and a jumbotron screen. To be honest, being more of an introvert, I don’t much like crowds, especially ones where alcohol and fireworks are combined. And I am a bit of a wimp too when it comes to celebratory cannon booms and displays of fireworks that have loud reports. It all reminds me too much of war and suffering. Of course, soccer is a kind of war, and teams in this tournament have used violent physical contact as a weapon to weaken the opposing team, as Brazil knows all too well. And like war, the losers will suffer.
Brazil 2 Germany 1