Germany vs. France
World Cup History: We could get all war metaphorish, perhaps ask whether the final whistle will be Frankfurt or Versailles? But the soccer history provides fine fodder enough. France beat Germany 6-3 in the redundant third-place match in 1958. Germany beat France 5-4 on penalties after a 3-3 draw in the 1982 semifinal and 2-0 in the 1986 semifinal. Germany’s 2-1 win in a February 2013 friendly was their first over Les Bleus since 1987. The Germans’ success during the interim says what you need to know about what those sorts of stats mean.
Form: France has looked more impressive than Germany thus far. But Germany has played a tougher slate of teams. Neither has really put it all together yet. The concern for Germany is their immobile back four. Algeria had oodles of chances to put the Mannschaft out. France is a more disciplined, more talented, stronger and quicker version of Algeria. The issue for France is whether they have a match-winner in their young squad. Paul Pogba may be that guy in coming tournaments. But he’s not there yet.
Brazil vs. Colombia
Form: Colombia, spearheaded by World Cup darling James Rodriguez, has stolen the Jogo Bonito mantle from Brazil, who have looked athletic thus far but uninspired. This may be the worst passing Seleção of all time, reliant on long balls from Dani Alves. Losing Luis Gustavo to suspension won’t help this Brazil team. Neither will Fred. That said, home field advantage tends to be important in the World Cup. While Brazil had to fend off Chile, the best team Colombia has played thus far has been dour Greece or a limp, Suarez-less Uruguay.
The Castrol Index: I’m a noted David Luiz skeptic. He still had nothing whatsoever to do with this goal. Nonetheless, he is the No. 1 player in the tournament per the Castrol Index. Though, the Castrol Index also claims Swiss defender Johan Djourou, member of the back line that gave up five goals to France, has been better than both Thomas Muller and Lionel Messi. So…yeah. Perhaps the opaque formula accounts for statesmanship?
Odds and Sods
* Brazil police claim a FIFA official is involved in a $100 million World Cup ticket scam. File under “not shocking developments.”