The first of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Semifinals kicks-off today, and of the four remaining teams, the Crew has three natural tie-ins. One of those tie-ins takes to the pitch today, as Eric Gehrig's Germany faces the host nation Brazil in a match full of intrigue. Although the Brazilians have been bolstered by the support of the home fans, Gehrig is confident in Die Mannschaft to earn the victory.
"I feel good. Since the first game, we haven't seen Germany play their best soccer. Even then, I don't know if it was their best soccer. If they put it together today, they know it's going to take a pretty gargantuan effort."
Brazil and Germany have only met in the FIFA World Cup once, in the 2002 Final that Brazil won by a 2-0 score. Today's encounter is slated to be the fourth all-time competitive contest between the sides, as they also played at the FIFA Confederations Cup in 1999 and 2005. Brazil took both of those meetings as well, giving the South American nation an unbeaten record against Germany in competitive fixtures.
However, these two nations' last overall meeting was a friendly on August 10, 2011, a match that Germany won 3-2 on its home soil at Stuttgart's Mercedes-Benz Arena. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Götze and Andre Schürrle scored for Germany in that match, and all three are on the 2014 FIFA World Cup roster. Gehrig believes the motivation of veterans such as Schweinsteiger might be the difference today.
"These are players that are hungry. The Schweinsteigers, the Lahms, you don't know if they're going to be back at the next World Cup. They're confident in the game. Obviously with the home field advantage for Brazil and the country behind them, it's going to be tough, but I'm confident that Germany can get it done today."
Brazil is also dealing with the injury to Neymar and a suspension for Thiago Silva, but Gehrig cautions that Germany cannot take Brazil lightly no matter how massive their absences might seem.
"The natural inclination is to say, 'oh, well, maybe they're not going to be that good.' Any soccer player, anyone that's played the game for a long time, especially the Germans, knows that there can't be any letdown. You have to prepare for the best [Brazil] team.
"Every player talks and every team goes about it that way, and specifically I think that's the way Germany goes about it. It's very efficient; it's very businesslike with the Germans. That's what they've shown over the years."