08 July 2014 | News Comments

Preview: Brazil v Germany

These sides meet for only the second time in a World Cup, the only previous occasion was in 2002, when Ronaldo inspired Brazil to a 2-0 win en route to their fifth World Cup.

Twelve years on in Belo Horizonte and Brazil need to find a new hero to see off Germany.

Another bruising encounter?

Brazil's quarter-final against Colombia was not for the faint-hearted with 53 fouls throughout; 31 of which were committed by the hosts. Joachim Loew is expecting a physical encounter in Belo Horizonte after seeing the battering handed out to Colombia's James Rodriguez on Friday.

With an average 15.7 fouls per match, Brazil have the second highest average of the tournament behind Uruguay. In contrast, Germany have the fourth lowest total of fouls per match, averaging 9.4.

Dead ball decider

Set pieces decided both these sides' quarter-finals, with Mats Hummels heading in Toni Kroos' free-kick against France to send Germany through and David Luiz's spectacular effort the difference in Brazil's match. With the goal-laden football of the group stages now a distant memory, converting from dead ball situations is increasingly becoming a necessity.

For all their attacking craft from open play, Germany have scored 40% of their goals from set pieces, the fourth highest share at the finals. Brazil's last three goals have come from set plays, bringing their proportion to 30% and ranking them in the top 10.

Pass masters

Much has been made of this Brazil side's lack of flair and their somewhat Machiavellian tactics against Colombia. Along with the raw numbers from the foul count, the passing statistics would appear to back that theory up.

Brazil only average 272 passes a game, which puts them among the ten least industrious passers at the finals, and their completion rate is also the tenth lowest at just 83.5%.

Their opponents are the polar opposite, with the highest average number of completed passes per match - 473 - and an impressive success rate of 88.8% - the third highest at the tournament.

Statistics

The FIFA number crunchers have come up with some interesting player statistics ahead of tonight's game.

Brazilian midfielder Oscar has made more tackles than any other player at the tournament, with 30 challenges.

Germany's Thomas Mueller has made the most sprints (252) and spent the most time in the opposition half (353 minutes).

Mueller and his colleagues Toni Kroos and Philip Lahm feature in the top five of distance covered, with more than 56km each from their previous five games.

Summary

While the world waits for one team to finally show the calibre of football deemed worthy of world champions, both these sides have continued to win in unspectacular fashion.

The distinct lack of goals since the group stages ended - with matches averaging just 1.9 goals since the start of the knockout phase and just five in the four quarter-finals combined - does not bode well as the stakes rise even higher.

Another cagey affair could be on the agenda here, especially from a Brazil side stripped of their two most influential players and hence even more likely to focus on disrupting their opponents.