Alright, it's seriously business time now as we're down to the semi finals. 4 teams left, all will play 2 more games, but 2 of them will have to go through the dispirited motions of the 3rd place playoff while the other 2 move on to the final.
Today, it's Brazil vs Germany. The host nation prepares to go on another collective emotional roller coaster (hopefully the players can keep theirs in check). Without Neymar, can Hulk or Fred suddenly pop up and actually look useful for the first time here? Will it be a different team we see here, perhaps better now the temptation to run everything through Neymar has been removed? Without Silva can the Brazilian defence keep the likes of Mueller and Oezil and co under wraps. Will they resort to the same often brutal tactics they used against Colombia to do that? All yellow cards have now been wiped off the slate so anyone getting booked here won't have to worry about a suspension for the final, so why not really.
Joachim Low has already been on at the ref (Rodriguez from Mexico, sent an Italian off, missed the Suarez bite) to do his bit to protect his players from those nasty cynical Brazilians. Presuming they get that protection, can they use it to look better than they have so far? It's all been very pedestrian but hey here they are in the semi finals again. Can Miroslav Klose get the goal he needs to dethrone Ronaldo as the all time top scorer? Can Thomas Mueller get the goals he needs to match Colombia's Rodriguez in the golden boot race as he tries to win it for the second time?
Yes, lots of questions for this one, and here's one more, can this live up to the excitement and entertainment of the earlier games, or as the stakes get ever higher, will the negativity and caution and tactical stalematiness just increase as it often does? This seemed to have 'best world cup ever' nailed down before the knockout rounds, which have produced some drama but not much in the way of entertainment. There are 3 more important games to go, I'd say we need one of them to be a good game over and above the importance that they all naturally have to seal the reputation of Brazil 2014. If I had to put money on one of them it'd probably be this one, but I'm in no way confident of that, not that whoever wins will care at all about how they do it.