Germans ready to make history in Brazil
AFP/DPA/The Local · 8 Jul 2014, 09:00
Published: 08 Jul 2014 08:00 GMT+02:00
Updated: 08 Jul 2014 09:00 GMT+02:00
- Seven players ill in German World Cup camp (03 Jul 14)
- German World Cup bid hit by string of scandals (29 May 14)
- Germany coach Löw banned for speeding (27 May 14)
Playing the host nation in Belo Horizonte would be a challenge that extended way beyond the on-field action.
"We're not just playing against 11 Brazilians on the pitch, we're playing against the entire country," the coach warned.
"Two hundred million people, a footballing country, record World Cup winners, at home - Brazil is the favourite," Löw said in a frank assessment of the match ahead. "If they lose the semi-final, people will be unhappy."
But he added that his team was not afraid to play against a "yellow wall" of Brazilian fans and that most of the pressure was on the "Seleção."
History in the making
Whether it would take 90 or 120 minutes or a penalty shootout, Löw was confident his team could still beat Brazil. "We have all the ways and means and qualities to send the Brazilians home," he said.
He also noted a historic dimension to the game. "A semi-final or final is something that isn't topped by anything else. It's the absolute greatest thing. That is where history is made and it's also something unique for all players."
"The more experienced you are, the more you soak up a game like this against the host nation in such a football-crazy country," agreed midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, who will be playing his 107th match for the national team.
"There is no other goal than the final and the title for us," added forward André Schürrle.
SEE ALSO: Germany vs. France player ratings
Bracing for Brazil
Löw did not expect the loss of the injured striker Neymar and the suspension of Thiago Silva to cripple the Brazilian offensive.
"That will release great energies among the Brazilians because Neymar is missing and Thiago is missing. All other players will now take on more responsibility. They say 'now more than ever' when their superstar is missing," said Löw.
The record books also favour the hosts. In 21 matches between the two teams since 1963, the South Americans have won 12 times.
And the Germans have never won a game against Brazil on Brazilian soil, losing and drawing three times each.
Tokyo or Stuttgart?
The only World Cup match between the two countries was played in 2002, when both faced off in the final. Ronaldo scored two goals in Tokyo which brought the World Cup trophy to Brazil for the fifth - and for now, last - time.
It was also the last time Germany made it into a World Cup final. In 2006, then at home, and in 2010 in South Africa, they lost in the semi-finals and went on to win the third-place playoff.
Both teams met most recently in 2011 in Stuttgart, when Germany won 3-2.
It was the first victory against Brazil in 18 years, and if the Germans get their way, it will serve as the blueprint for Tuesday's game. June 8th marks the date of Germany's last World Cup victory, 24 years ago in Rome.
Germany are determined to repeat this triumph for the fourth time in history.
"We believe in the title. We have two games left. We've already played five games and didn't lose once. Our confidence is great," said skipper Philip Lahm.
If Löw opts for the same team which beat France, he will field a side with 670 international matches.
That line-up would include Mesut Özil, whose performance in this year's tournament has not lived up to expectations.
But Löw said: "Mesut's just an incredibly important player for me. He is highly talented, he can decide a match."
Black magic back-up?
And in case tactics and skill alone do not win them the game, some Brazilians may be counting on supernatural intervention to clinch the day.
Black magician Helio Sillman from Rio de Janeiro says his ability to cast voodoo curses will ultimately hobble Joachim Löw's team in the semi-final.
"I'll take their top player and bind his legs so he can't run on the pitch," vowed Sillman, referring to a doll of the unnamed German player that he says will be cursed in a pre-match ceremony.
Using a small football pitch-shaped box as his altar, Sillman places inside lit candles in the colours of the opposing team and an effigy of their most important player.
Not that his earlier attempt to bring misfortune on James Rodriguez stopped the Colombian star from scoring in his team's 2-1 defeat to Brazil in Friday's quarterfinals.
But Sillman still points to Brazil's results against Cameroon, Chile, Croatia and Mexico as proof of the influence of his magic.