Good evening, sports fans! Anyone else get the feeling that World Cup semi-finals have a tendency to be somewhat understated? After all, this evening in Belo Horizonte we have two of the historical superpowers of international football locking horns for a place in the World Cup final, and the world seems less than over-excited at the prospect of it all. Perhaps we’re all footballed out after the sheer glut of matches that have been sent our way over the last three weeks or so. Unlike some other knockout competitions, it feels as if the semi-finals are relatively underplayed. Perhaps tonight, however, will be different.

So, Brazil and Germany, then. As any foo’ knows, these two teams have, in spite of having the two best records of any nation at the World Cup finals, only met once before, and this was in the final of the competition twelve years ago, when Brazil beat Germany by two goals to nil in Yokohama. Other than that, historical trend analysts will have to look elsewhere in order to draw their assumptions. The bookmakers seem unable to decide who are the favourites to win this match, and in order to reach any conclusions ourselves we have to delve back through the tournament to see if there’s anything that we can glean from previous performances in order to make any sense of it all.

On the one hand, Brazil are the hosts and benefits from all the advantages that this confers upon them. On the other, however, they have not played particularly brilliantly so far, and a combination of the injury to Neymar and the suspension handed down to Thiago Silva are big losses to a team that has not exactly been overbrimming with quality so far. Germany, meanwhile, have experience in the likes of seasoned international players such as Phillip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski, Per Mertesacker and Miroslaw Klose, but have hardly set the tournament alight since thrashing Portugal in their opening match. It looks as if the bookmaking community might just about be right. Perhaps this match is too close to call.

The winners, of course, play the winners of tomorrow night’s match between the Netherlands and Lionel Messi in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday. Who will it be? Well, your guess is just about as good as ours at the time of writing, but come back and join us shortly before nine this evening (BST) and who knows, perhaps we’ll keep you entertained for a couple of hours while this match grinds inevitably towards a goalless draw and Brazl win after a penalty shoot-out. We look forward, as ever, to your company.

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