FIFA World Cup: Key battles of the Brazil vs Germany clash
As the two football powerhouses clash tonight, we look at where tonight’s semi-final will be won or lost
Hulk vs Benedikt Hoewedes
Without star man Neymar, Brazilian hopes will fall on the broad shoulders of Hulk to carry his side to the final of their World Cup. The striker is yet to score in the tournament and missed a penalty in the shootout against Chile. However, he was a constant menace in his side's 2-1 win over Colombia. The steady Hoewedes has been deployed at left-back throughout the tournament despite normally playing in the centre of defence by his club Schalke. Hoewedes should be able to physically compete where most defenders struggle against Hulk, but may not have the pace to prevent Brazil's man-mountain cutting onto his dangerous left foot to shoot.
Luis Gustavo vs Toni Kroos
Old Bayern Munich teammates Gustavo and Kroos symbolise the contrast in styles between Brazil's physical nature and Germany's ability to keep the ball. Gustavo missed the quarters due to suspension, but is certain to return and will look to knock Kroos out of his rhythm. With captain Philipp Lahm having returned to his traditional right back role, Kroos has become a midfield reference point around which the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil feed. One area in which Gustavo may not be able to stop Kroos, though, is his excellent set-piece delivery which proved key in the Last Eight.
David Luiz vs Thomas Mueller
With Neymar injured and captain Thiago Silva suspended, Luiz is Brazil's best player in the line-up against Germany. Defensively Luiz has showed a discipline he rarely did in three years at Chelsea before sealing a transfer to PSG last month. And he is also Brazil's top goalscorer after Neymar, having netted against Chile in the Last 16 and won the quarter-final with a stunning free-kick. His toughest test yet awaits, though, in preventing Mueller from extending his stunning World Cup record of scoring nine times in 11 games. Mueller has had previous success against Luiz.