Without arguably their two most important players, hosts Brazil take on Germany at the Estadio Minerao in Belo Horizonte for a place in the 2014 World Cup final.
Surprisingly for two of international football’s most successful nations, they have only ever met once at the World Cup before now, with two Ronaldo goals securing Brazil’s fifth crown in the 2002 final.
Luiz Felipe Scolari was the winning manager back then, but 12 years on his side is much more workmanlike, and has little flair. The manner in which they beat Colombia on Friday won few admirers, but was effective enough, and the Brazilian public remains right behind their side as they stand just 180 minutes from immortality.
They will have to cope against the Germans without Neymar, after he was ruled out for the rest of the tournament after suffering a back injury against the Colombians. Thiago Silva also misses out through suspension, and the absence of both players represents nothing short of a massive blow for Brazil, although Scolari retains faith in his squad.
Ahead of their fourth consecutive World Cup semi-final, Germany are the favourites to make it into Sunday’s showdown at the Maracana, after moving through to the last four with a narrow – though comfortable – win over France. It was a performance of no heroics, but Mats Hummels’ header after 13 minutes was enough to send Joachim Low’s team safely through.
Even without Per Mertesacker, the German defence looked solid enough against France, and even then they had the outstanding Manuel Neuer to keep them in control. For this game, Low may look for his side to be more ruthless in attack, having struggled somewhat to score from open play since their 4-0 win over Portugal.
Dante will come in for Brazil to replace Thiago Silva, while Willian or Bernard is likely to step into Neymar’s position. Luiz Gustavo returns from suspension.
There are no new injury concerns for Germany, who could hand Mertesacker a recall. Skodran Mustafi is out for the rest of the competition.