Brazil's Willian smiles during a press conference at the Granja Comary training center on Sunday. He could be the one to take Neymar's place today.

AP photo

Brazil's Willian smiles during a press conference at the Granja Comary training center on Sunday. He could be the one to take Neymar's place today.

Corner Kicks, July 8: Brazil-Germany has similarities to 2002 final

By Nick Piotrowicz

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Game of The Day: Brazil vs. Germany, 4 p.m. Soccer has a funny way of earning retribution. This matchup also was the 2002 final, which Brazil won, 2-0, and the similarities go deep.

Instead, the circumstances have been flipped this time.

In 2002, Germany played the role of depleted power. Sebastian Deisler, a key attacking midfielder, was lost for the tournament, as were a few others on the 23-man roster.

In 2014, Brazil is playing that role heading into today. Neymar, who was looking like the only real attacking threat Brazil had, suffered a vertebrae injury and will miss the rest of the tournament. Captain Thiago Silva also will miss today’s semifinal because of a yellow-card suspension.

In 2002, Germany rode veteran goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, whose effort against the United States kept the Germans in the tournament. (So did a handball in the box, but I digress.)

In 2014, Julio Cesar saved Brazil’s tournament with a heroic performance in a penalty shootout against Chile.

In 2002, Germany underwhelmed in the round of 16, barely beating Paraguay.

In 2014, Brazil was unimaginative and frankly lucky to beat Chile, which hit the bar near the end of extra time and was the better side for the duration of the game.

The Germans also advanced to play the host nation in the semifinals 12 year ago, though Brazil might be a little more intimidating than South Korea was.

In the 2002 final, Brazil won with two second-half goals from Ronaldo, who eventually won top scorer. Germany’s Thomas Mueller would tie the lead with two today.

Maybe all of this means nothing for today’s result, but there is a well-stocked, well-rounded European country that surely hasn’t forgotten the circumstances of 2002.