Yesterday, Brazil advanced to the 2014 World Cup semifinals with a 2-1 victory over Columbia. It was an ugly match marred by 54 total fouls, however, the host country was still able to win and keep their title hopes alive.
But if Brazil is to win on their home soil, they’ll have to do it without their best player, Neymar. The 22-year-old striker saw his Cup end early when Colombia’s Juan Camilo Zuniga jumped for a header and delivered a knee to his back. Hours after being carried off on a stretcher in tears, Neymar would learn that he had a fractured vertebrae. And while he’ll be healed in four weeks’ time, this is more than enough to keep the young star out of the remaining World Cup.
Brazil is no doubt a talented team, but they certainly can’t be looking forward to life without Neymar. After all, he scored four goals in five World Cup Finals matches this summer, tying Lionel Messi and Thomas Muller for second thus far. So now the question remains what the Brazilians will do heading into a tough semifinals match against Germany.
Can Anybody fill Neymar’s Cleats?
Could anybody for Brazil match the speed, dribbling skills and shooting of Neymar? Certainly not, which means that this team can’t simply do a lineup shift or bring somebody off the bench to fill such a huge hole. However, they’re going to have to do something different because they aren’t the same squad without Neymar.
They will be given a boost, however, when Luiz Gustavo returns to the lineup. The defensive midfielder had to sit out against Columbia after receiving a second yellow card. As for who’ll provide some offense in Neymar’s absence, Willian Borges da Silva could get the call. He’s got speed, athleticism and dribbling ability, which might pay dividends against the Germans.
Oscar could be playing up top without the team’s superstar available, with Fred and Hulk playing alongside him. This isn’t Brazil’s optimal attacking lineup, but it’s still good enough to compete with Germany and make up for losing one of the world’s best players. This team also gains strength from the fact that they’re playing at home.
Brazil vs Germany Betting Prediction
While we say that the Brazilians still have a chance, they’ll also be dealing with two major handicaps. Besides Neymar’s injury, captain Thiago Silva made a very uncaptain-like move by picking up his second yellow card against Columbia. it was a needless foul and one that will keep the midfielder off the pitch on Tuesday, July 8th.
Meanwhile, Germany will be entering the match with no major injuries or suspensions. Plus, they cruised to a relatively easy 1-0 victory over France in the quarterfinals. Keeping both missing players and fatigue in mind, we like Germany to win 2-1.
One of the biggest discussions going into Thursday’s match between Germany and USA revolves around both teams making a gentlemen’s agreement to play for a draw. Such a move would benefit both teams, with Germany clinching the Group G title and the Americans advancing to the knockout stage. Moreover, both teams could use the rest after a bruising round of group play games. So if you’re thinking of doing some betting on USA vs Germany, a tie might be a good option, right? Especially since the head coaches, Jurgen Klinsmann and Joachim Loew (pictured left and right), are friends, correct?
Don’t count on it! Comments on both sides indicate that this match will be just as intense as any other that we’ve seen so far in the 2014 World Cup. Klinsmann even seems to think that his underdog US team has a chance at toppling the giants from Germany. “Both teams go into this game and want to win the group,” Klinsmann said. “We want to go at Germany and get three points and be in the drivers seat for the round of 16. I am sure we will see in four days a very exciting match in Recife. I think coming now is a lot of respect from our opponents.”
The German-born coach also recalled how his team never stopped playing hard in CONCACAF qualifiers, despite sewing up first place in CONCACAF before their final match against Panama. “The US is known to give all they have in every single game – otherwise Mexico wouldn’t be here,” Klinsmann said in regard to defeating Panama so that Mexico still had a shot at making the Cup.
German players don’t seem very keen on a tie or giving a half effort either. After all, first place in Group G is on the line in this match, and both teams could still possibly be eliminated altogether, though it’s very unlikely for Germany. Defender Per Mertesacker made a point of bringing this up to the media. “It’s kind of a knockout game for both teams,” said Mertesacker. “Obviously, after today, we’re looking forward to that game. We want to make less mistakes and show our whole potential.”
Showing their potential will be a huge motivator for Germany since they were surprised by an athletic Ghana team during a 2-2 draw. Even still, many people are convinced that the USA vs Germany match is headed for a draw thanks to history.
The soccer world has a term for two teams lollygagging through a match so that they can produce a result that’s beneficial to both – Biscotto. This word means “cookie” or “biscuit” in Italian, but it also refers to a couple of teams working together to produce a desired result.
The oft-cited Biscotto example in the case of USA and Germany is a 1982 World Cup match between West Germany and Austria. The latter had already qualified for the knockout round while West Germany needed a victory by one goal to advance. So the Germans went up by one goal and both sides soft-played from then on out – eliminating Algeria and Chile in the process.
Denmark and Sweden also did the same thing to eliminate Italy at Euro 2004. They played to a 2-2 draw, which pushed both of them on to the knockout round while sending the Italians home on goal differential. So the concept of a Biscotto is definitely not made up in the soccer world.
Not Always planned
Of course, Klinsmann continues to dismiss any notion of coming to such an agreement with his friend and former assistant coach Loew. But it is worth mentioning that Biscottos don’t always arise from a prearranged deal. Sometimes teams will get deep into a match while tied, then start slowing the game down and/or playing softer to avoid injuries and further fatigue.
But until that happens, count on both Germany and USA playing as hard as they can in their final match of group play. Both sides have a lot on the line and will be looking to further prove themselves to the world by winning this much-hyped game.
Ndamukong Suh doesn’t exactly look like the prototypical soccer fan or player. This is especially the case when you consider that the 6’4″, 307-pounder plays defensive tackle for the NFL’s Detroit Lions. Nevertheless, the Portland, Oregon native with strong family ties to Cameroon (dad) and Jamaica (mother) is also a big fan of a different kind of football.
“My dad actually got me into soccer very heavily,” Suh told Yahoo Sports. “I’ve had a soccer ball at my feet since I was three and I’ve loved it ever since. And it’s a sport that runs deep in my family, my dad was a professional in Germany when he was very young. And my sister actually played for his country in 2008 in the women’s World Cup. I’m the only one who hasn’t gone and taken it to the full length. I stopped in eighth grade, I kind of went in a different path for football.”
With such a strong soccer presence in his family, it’s easy to see why Suh is a huge soccer fan. And there’s a chance that he’s even done a little 2014 World Cup betting and live wagering too. Okay, so we can’t verify the last statement, but we are pretty confident that the Lions star is watching as many World Cup matches as he can this summer. “I love watching it, I love looking forward to the World Cup every four years,” he said.
As mentioned before, Suh’s dad is from Cameroon, his mom is from Jamaica and he was born and bred in the United States. So who is he actually rooting for in the World Cup? “It’s very tough.” he said. “My dad is from Cameroon, Jamaica doesn’t always make it. But definitely US is a team that I root for as well as Cameroon. This World Cup, US is obviously playing really great and I’m excited about that.
“Cameroon is not doing as hot. And actually the last time that I saw them play, which was in the ’94 World Cup, when I was about seven or eight down in San Francisco, I kind of saw the same thing happen when they played against Russia. Got to see a great player for them, Roger Miller play for them and score a goal – so it was exciting. But I look forward to just watching great games throughout the year. And obviously Premier League soccer, but obviously when the World Cup comes, it’s even more…everybody’s hyped up and into it – so I definitely enjoy it.”
Suh has definitely found his calling in American football, racking up 27.5 sacks, 136 tackles, and proving to be one of the game’s fiercest defensive players in his four NFL seasons. But that doesn’t mean a part of him wouldn’t mind trying a different sport. “I’ve always wished I could’ve gone to the Olympics, won a gold medal,” he said when asked about playing a different sport. “But I’m definitely happy in the NFL. It’s a great sport. And hopefully one that’s gonna expand to go global. Maybe have a game down here in Brazil one time. It’d be exciting. But for the most part, it’d be nice to have an opportunity to play on the US soccer team or Cameroon if I could.”
Quite possibly the most muscular guy at the 2014 World Cup is the Brazilian striker “Hulk.” But if Suh ever got the chance to take the pitch for America or Cameroon, he’d easily dwarf the 5’11”, 190-pound Hulk. Of course, we highly expect him to be suiting up for the Detroit Lions next season, rather than a national soccer team.
The USA takes on Portugal today in what will be a defining match for Group G, which some have labeled the “Group of Death.” As we discussed before, USA has many things going in their favor already, including key injuries on Portugal’s side.
Cristiano Ronaldo happens to be one of these injuries, although he’s still playing today. The Real Madrid striker suffers from a patellar tendon knee injury, which hasn’t kept him off the pitch. However, the lingering knee issue does prevent him from being 100% and one wrong step could put him out for the 2014 World Cup.
Of course, the Americans are preparing as if they’re facing the world’s best player when he’s in perfect health. And this is definitely a good idea when you consider what Ronaldo can do to opponents in short order.
Previous Ronaldo Heroics
After losing their first match against Germany 1-0 and beating Denmark 3-2 in Euro 2012 group play, Portugal needed a win against the Netherlands to advance. Things looked bleak, though, as the Dutch went up by a score of 1-0 early on. But then Ronaldo stormed back and scored two goals to propel his side to a win and a spot in the quarterfinals.
Then there was the match that actually put Portugal in the 2014 World Cup, a playoff game against Sweden. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had scored a goal to put the Swedes within one more strike of moving to the Cup. However, Ronaldo went on to score two more goals to give himself a hat trick and guarantee the Portuguese a spot in the world’s biggest soccer tournament.
What to expect against USA
The Americans know better than to expect a ginger Ronaldo playing at half-speed to protect his knee and future. His teammates don’t expect this either, especially Raul Meireles, who strongly believes that Ronaldo will show up in the sweltering heat of Manaus today.
“We know Cristiano, we don’t expect anything else,” Meireles said of his superstar teammate’s tireless effort. “Cristiano is the best player in the world and he is always competing to be the best player. This group has gone through difficult times before and I hope this will be another occasion when we will be successful.”
Meireles’ words hint at the two comebacks that Ronaldo provided against Sweden and the Netherlands. But then again, they were dominated 4-0 by Germany in their opening round, with “CR7” being completely stopped. That said, the urgency is definitely there, but Portugal is up against a lot of giants right now.
They are sitting at minus 4 on the goal differential, have zero points, and rank last in Group G behind Germany (4 pts), USA (3 pts) and Ghana (3 pts). Besides Ronaldo’s knee injury, Portugal will be without at least four starters against the US in central defender Pepe (red card), leftback Fabio Coentrao, striker Hugo Almeida and goalkeeper Rui Patricio. Centerback Bruno Alves could also possibly miss the match since he has a serious thigh injury. Meanwhile, USA is only missing striker Jozy Altidore while Clint Dempsey will play with a broken nose.
Win or Go Home
Despite all of their injury problems, Portugal head coach Paulo Bento will be expecting the best out of his team. In fact, he has to or else they’re going home. “This is the scenario we have ahead of us,” said Bento. “If we draw, we practically pack our suitcase. It is not a scenario we are unaware of. It is not a situation we are unused to.”
Is this going to be another one of those against-the-wall situations where Ronaldo provides heroics? Or will this be one time too many for a team that’s survived plenty of close brushes in the past? We’ll see when the USA vs Portugal match takes place at 6:00 ET today (June 22nd). If you’d like to do some last-minute 2014 World Cup betting before the game, check out the lines at GTBets.eu. We not only have lines on all of today’s matches, but also World Cup live wagering opportunities too.
When 2014 World Cup groups were drawn, the US Men’s National Team was facing pretty grim prospects. Sure, they were ranked 14th by FIFA at the time. But they were facing two of FIFA’s top three teams in Portugal and Germany. Add in Ghana, the team that had knocked them out of the last two World Cups, and they were looking at a very difficult task.
Fast-forward to now and what once looked like the Group of Death is looking more like the group of hope. Thanks to an 86th-minute header by reserve defender John Brooks, USA beat their nemesis, Ghana, by a score of 2-1, which has put them atop Group G along with Germany.
Next up is Portugal in a match that could very well decide if the US advances to the knockout round, or if they’ll need some help and an excellent performance against Germany’s powerhouse team. America and Portugal face off on Sunday (June 22nd) at 3:00pm in the heat and humidity of Manaus. That said, let’s take a closer look at this matchup, including the strengths and weaknesses of both teams.
USA: Sharpening their Play is a Must
Strengths – Clint Dempsey got the United States off to a hot start by scoring the fifth quickest goal in World Cup history. Coming from the left flank, he made a marvelous move to the inside and booted the shot in. From here, USA held Ghana for the next 81 minutes, until striker Asamoah Gyan delivered a perfect back heel to André Ayew, who knocked the shot past US keeper Tim Howard.
With the score at 1-1, the Americans finally took to the offensive, which resulted in a corner kick that Brooks headed in for the game-defining score. After a victory over their rivals, confidence is sky-high on the American side and this is one of their greatest attributes.
Another plus for USA is that they feature a scrappy, bend-but-don’t-break defense that held Ghana for most of the match. This is no small feat when you consider that the Ghanaians are among the fastest teams at the 2014 World Cup. Assuming they can show the same amount of effort against Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal, they have an excellent shot of at least tying the game, if not winning.
One more strength worth mentioning is their head coach, Jurgen Klinsmann. He’s seen and coached some of the best, including the German team that finished third in the 2006 World Cup. The hard-driving coach is great at motivating his squad and getting the most out of them. Plus, he came up with a pretty good gameplan against Ghana. Can he do the same against Portugal?
Weaknesses – Despite beating Ghana, there was plenty for Klinsmann to pick apart. Aside from the quick goal and beautiful move by Dempsey, the US didn’t put together a very good offensive effort. Their passing was among the sloppiest seen out of any team this summer and they didn’t do a very good job of maintaining possession. This is a huge reason why the Americans were constantly facing pressure from Ghana.
Another problem was the play of midfielder of Michael Bradley. The AS Roma man is one of the best players on this team, however, he looked far from that against Ghana. Bradley made a lot of poor passes and didn’t defend well either. He really needs to come back stronger against Portugal for USA to maintain possession better.
As for injuries, striker Jozy Altidore is out for the foreseeable future with a hamstring injury. And his replacement, Icelandic-American Aron Jóhannsson, didn’t look too impressive in his relief. Dempsey’s broken nose could also be a minor factor since he’ll probably be playing with a mask.
Portugal needs to Battle through Injuries
Strengths – The strength of Portugal lies with their star, Cristiano Ronaldo. Often called the best player in the world, Ronaldo is always a threat to score multiple goals. He showed this with a hat trick in a 4-2 aggregate playoff victory over Sweden that powered the Team of Shields into the 2014 Cup.
Another player to watch for on the Portuguese side is midfielder João Moutinho. He didn’t exactly have the best season for Monaco, however, he’s an exceptional passer who’s just waiting to wake up. Assuming he and Ronaldo are both on versus USA, the American side could be in a lot of trouble.
Weaknesses – Whatever injury concerns that the US has are nothing compared to Portugal. Ronaldo is dealing with a lingering knee issue that’s prevented him from being 100%. Then there’s defender Fabio Coentrao, who will miss the rest of the 2014 World Cup with a groin injury. Coentrao’s injury only hurts worse when you consider that Pepe, the team’s best defender, will also be out against the US after receiving a red card against Germany. If this isn’t bad enough, injured forward Hugo Almeida is likely to miss the rest of the group stage.
Besides all of the injuries, another problem for Portugal will be confidence. They’re coming off of a disastrous 4-0 loss to Germany. To consider the possible effects of this, look at defending champ Spain, which lost 5-1 to the Netherlands, only to follow this up with a 2-0 loss to Chile. Some might say the demolishing by Germany might motivate the Portuguese. But it could easily go the other way too.
USA vs Portugal Betting Prediction
If there were no injuries to account for in this match, Portugal would be the favorite. However, they’ll be without three starters due to injuries and Pepe’s red card, meaning USA will have an easier go of it. The key will be for the Americans to play their best soccer against a depleted team. They’ll also need to take notes on how Germany held Ronaldo in check. Since Ronaldo has less support going into the match, we like the US.
The World Cup is just as popular as ever this year, with millions of people around the globe enjoying 2014 World Cup betting and live wagering. Moreover, the Cup has really provided some great upsets and surprises, including defending champion Spain being eliminated already, Costa Rica beating Uruguay, and Mexico tying Brazil while facing a hostile crowd. It’s easy to see why fans have loved all the action so far.
But do you want to know who’s not enjoying the festivities? Las Vegas sportsbooks! The problems include favorites going 9-5 on the goal line so far, and the Over winning 12 out of 14 matches. Combine this with many World Cup bettors taking the favorite and wagering on the Over, and it’s not hard to see why Vegas sportsbooks are just as disappointed as Spain.
Jeff Sherman, who’s the assistant at LVH SuperBook, explained the matter by saying, “I’ve never seen anything like it. The kids (parlay bettors) are having a blast, and there really has been no need for handicapping the games – just blindly take the favorite and OVER.”
Not just the Favorites
Aside from a disproportionate number of people wagering on favorites and the Over, Vegas books also lost big-time when USA beat Ghana by a score of 2-1. There was a popular parlay bet that many people picked, which included “USA +110” combined with “Over 2 Goals.”
Despite the losses that this parlay caused, bookmaking legend and South Point sportsbook operator Jimmy Vaccaro has a positive spin on things. He said, “We’re hoping the USA builds up some momentum and makes it out of the group stage because it will just heighten the awareness of the tournament throughout the city that will not only increase handle on their future games, but also on the other games as people start familiarizing themselves with potential opponents down the road.”
A No-Win Situation
US coach Jurgen Klinsmann famously said at the beginning of the 2014 World Cup that his team “cannot win.” It appears that Vaccaro and other bookmakers share the same sentiment and would like USA to advance so that more people bet on high-powered favorites, rather than the home team, thus evening out the action.
But then again, America advancing out of Group G could cause more losses for Vegas sportsbooks too. USA was given 9:1 odds of winning Group G and 5:2 odds of advancing out of what many called the “Group of Death.” It’s very possible that the 5:2 bet on America making it out of their group was a favorite among many.
Of course, USA is far from advancing yet because they still have to play Portugal and Germany. Assuming they can beat Portugal, or at least tie them, the Red, White and Blue has an excellent chance of moving to the knockout round. Provided they lose, USA will need a major upset or (possibly) tie against Germany to advance, and this is one match where people will be heavily betting the favorite.