[PREVIEW: Brazil-Germany] Rarely has so much attention been placed on a referee in an important match. Mexican Marco Rodriguez is dubbed "Chiqui Dracula" for his resemblance to a Dracula character in Mexican TV and his penchant for disciplining players.
After two consecutive Brazil games marred
by excessive fouling, Germany coach Joachim Loew hopes Rodriguez will put a bite into the hosts if their rough stuff continues in Tuesday's semifinal in Belo
The Brazil-Chile match featured 51 fouls and the Brazil-Colombia game was marred by 54 fouls, the most of any match at the 2014 World Cup.
No players were red
carded in either game. And FIFA has said it won't sanction Colombian defender Juan Zuniga over the incident that left Neymar with a fractured vertebra and knocked the Brazilian star out of the World Cup.
"In Europe," said Loew on Monday, "there would not be 22 players on the field in the
end. It was a bit exaggerated. One has to punish these rustic and brutal tactics. There was maybe 38, 39 minutes of clean playing time."
BRAZIL. Brazil has only one star, Neymar, but Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is reminding everyone that Brazil has ''22 other players who know they are special.''
''We will miss Neymar's competitiveness, his happiness,'' Scolari
said on Monday. "But we have a group of quality players and they can overcome the challenges and help the team advance.''
Scolari has the double problem of having to replace Neymar --
with Willian -- and captain Thiago Silva, who is suspended.
who bounced around clubs in Brazil, France, Belgium and Germany before making it at Bayern Munich, will likely fill in Thiago Silva, who has confidence in his replacement.
"I know what
he's had to overcome to get to this stage," said Thiago Silva, who played with Dante a decade ago at Juventude.
GERMANY. After opening with a 4-0 win
over Portugal, the Germans coasted through their next three games. But they played perhaps their best match of the tournament in the quarterfinals, a 1-0 win over France. ''The team is improving from
match to match,'' said Loew.
Lothar Matthaeus, who captained Germany to the 1990 title, says the improved defense was evident in shutting down the
French, who had been averaging 2.5 goals a game, and will be the key to Germany's title hopes. For the French game, captain Philipp Lahm moved to right back and
Jerome Boateng moved into the middle in place of Per Mertesacker.
"We played well against France," said
Matthaeus, "but the real face of the German team will show itself against Brazil and possibly in the final."
Brazil and Germany have won eight World Cups between and finished in the top four 22 times, but they've only met once at the World Cup.
Brazil won, 2-0, on a pair of goals by Ronaldo, who says the 2002 championship team was the best in Brazilian history after the 1970 team. Few would praise the 2002 German team. It's considered the worst
of the seven German teams to make the final.
2002 World Cup final (video will click through to You Tube):
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Toronto FC), Jefferson (Botafogo), Victor (Gremio).
Defenders: Daniel Alves (Barcelona/SPA), Maicon (Roma/ITA), Marcelo (Real Madrid/SPA), Maxwell (Paris SG/FRA), David Luiz (Chelsea/ENG), Thiago Silva (Paris SG/FRA),
Dante (Bayern Munich/GER), Henrique (Napoli/ITA).
Midfielders: Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg/GER), Paulinho (Tottenham/ENG), Ramires (Chelsea/ENG), Fernandinho
(Man. City/ENG), Oscar (Chelsea/ENG), Willian (Chelsea/ENG), Hernanes (Inter Milan/ITA), Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk/UKR).
Forwards: Fred (Fluminense),
Neymar (Barcelona/SPA), Hulk (Zenit St. Petersburg/RUS), Jo (Atletico Mineiro).
Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover 96)
Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich),
Kevin Grosskreutz (Borussia Dortmund), Erik Durm (Borussia Dortmund), Benedikt Hoewedes (Schalke 04), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal/ENG), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich),
Shkodran Mustafi (Sampdoria).
Midfielders: Julian Draxler (Schalke 04), Matthias Ginter (Freiburg), Mario Goetze (Bayern Munich), Christoph Kramer
(Borussia M'Gladbach), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid/SPA), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal/ENG), Lukas Podolski (Arsenal/ENG), Andre Schuerrle
(Chelsea/ENG), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich)
Forwards: Miroslav Klose (Lazio/ITA).