Yesterday (the weekend) in one sentence: The quarterfinal round was, sadly, as predictable as the last 16, but there’s a chance teams might play more openly in this round.
What's on tap: Brazil vs. Germany, 4 p.m., ESPN.
What you’ll see: These two world superpowers are quite familiar with each other, with Brazil winning the last three competitive matches, including the 2002 final in South Korea and Japan. More was on the line in that match, but this one might feel bigger in front of the home crowd for Brazil.
Brazil is coming off a physical match that saw the star of the tournament, Neymar, sidelined with a fractured vertabrae. Whether Brazil can create and score without Neymar will basically decide the nation’s fate in the tournament. There are plenty of able deputies in the creator role for Brazil — players such as Willian and Oscar could try to assert themselves in Neymar’s role -- but none are as skilled as the prodigious 22-year-old.
Germany scored early against France and held on for a relatively comfortable quarterfinal win, and made a move that likely saved its tournament by moving captain Philipp Lahm to his natural right back position to tighten up the back line and put an experienced midfielder in the middle.
The Germans have had tense moments, but that will only prepare the tactically-sound side for the type of careful affair they’re in for Tuesday.
It will be devastating to see the shots of the Brazil fans should the hosts lose here or in the final, and for that alone I hope they can come through. But Germany has played in a way that makes me feel it has another gear, and it could finally reveal itself at the hosts’ expense.