Does Germany have inside edge on host Brazil?

Germany's national team coach Joachim Low (third right) talks to player Toni Kroos (third left)...

Germany's national team coach Joachim Low (third right) talks to player Toni Kroos (third left) during a training session in the village of Santo Andre north of Porto Seguro on Saturday, July 5, 2014. (Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters)

KURTIS LARSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:19 PM ET

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - He's known as "Fat Ronaldo" now.

The Brazilian legend -- topped with the worst haircut in World Cup history -- bagged a brace the last time Germany and Brazil came together at a World Cup.

It was the final, too, an eventual 2-0 win for the South Americans in Yokohama, Japan, that capped Brazil's record five World Cup titles.

Three World Cups later, two faces remain from that memorable night, one that locals here in Belo Horizonte, as well as abroad, keep fresh in their memories.

Germany's Miroslav Klose, a goal away from breaking Ronaldo's World Cup goals record, started that night.

Current Brazilian bench boss Luiz Felipe Scolari was at the helm back then as well, returning to the Brazilian national team setup following a brief hiatus.

Now, the Germans -- three-time World Cup champs themselves -- will enter maybe their most difficult match since that night in Japan.

Belo Horizonte's Estadio Mineirao was the site of Brazil's stunning second-round win over Chile a few weeks back.

It's loud. It's intimidating. It's cavernous.

It's also hot and humid here, a short drive north of Rio de Janeiro -- something that has had an effect on European teams from the outset.

But with injuries and suspensions piling up for the hosts, the Germans won't be big underdogs heading into a match against the Brazilians -- the favourites to win a sixth World Cup.

That said, the Germans -- the most consistent World Cup nation in the tournament's history -- will need to be near-perfect if they're to avoid the pointless third-place match.

Here's the early skinny on who has the edge heading into Tuesday's World Cup semifinal.

FORWARDS

Considering German bench boss Joachim Low elected not to bring a plethora of strikers to this tournament, it's difficult to compare these two sides up top. German veteran Miroslav Klose likely won't start the match, leaving Thomas Mueller in the hole to act as a playmaker and involve the wide player. For me, though, Mueller is probably the best finisher between the two teams, especially when you consider Brazil's Neymar is out through injury. And with Brazil's Fred failing to impress after playing so well at last summer's Confederation Cup, all eyes will be on Brazil's Hulk to make up for the dip in attacking options Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari is facing. The Brazilian bench boss has already said he'd like to be able to add a few players he left off the squad. Brazilian stars like Robinho and Pato didn't make the cut the first go around and would be a massive upgrade had they been brought along. With Neymar out, the Germans look to be on level terms with the South Americans going forward.

ADVANTAGE: Germany

MIDFIELD

Brazil gets a massive boost with the return of Luiz Gustavo, who missed a quarterfinal win over Colombia through yellow card suspension. The defensive-minded midfielder is one of the big reasons why Brazilian fullbacks like Marcelo, Dani Alves and Maicon can venture forward with reckless abandon. They know Gustavo will fill their spot should they get caught up field. Gustavo is also a brilliant passer and is excellent at switching the point of attack. In front of him could be one of Paulinho or Oscar, a pair of creative players in the attacking third that can unlock defences for guys like Hulk and Fred. It's a bit up in the air what German manager Joachim Low will do. Mesut Ozil will be on a wing, but hasn't had the best tournament. German midfielders Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger could feature in midfield as long as Low continues to use Philipp Lahm as a fullback. While the German pairing matches up well with Gustavo, who plays club ball in Germany, they're rarely tested by dynamic attacking midfielders like Oscar. As a result, they'll have to work on the defensive side of the ball far more than they like to. It could be a mismatch.

ADVANTAGE: Brazil

DEFENCE

Are you looking for attacking backs, or solid, more traditional defenders? Both sides have excellent centre backs, with Germany's Mats Hummels having a fantastic tournament while looking dangerous in the air and Brazil's defensive four looking very good going forward. Heck, it was Brazil's centre pairing -- Thiago Silva and David Luiz -- who scored Brazil's two goals in a 2-1 quarterfinal win over Colombia last week. That said, Silva will miss Tuesday's semifinal through suspension, meaning Dante, who also plays in the German league, will come in cold off the bench. Out wide, Germany's Philipp Lahm was at once considered the best fullback in the world and offers world class contributions at both ends of the pitch. His service into Mueller could be key. For the hosts, Marcelo and Maicon are eager to get forward on every play, which sometimes leaves the Brazilians vulnerable at the back. With Neymar out, things are looking much better for Hummels and Jerome Boateng, who will have one less speedy player to deal with in what's sure to be a fast-paced game.

ADVANTAGE: Germany

GOALKEEPING

There's not much to say. German netminder Manuel Neuer could win this World Cup's Golden Gloves award if his side makes it to the final. He has size, solid shot-stopping abilities and reads the game off his line better than any other 'keeper in the world. That's not to say Julio Cesar isn't a solid 'keeper, too. He was once considered the best in the world. But if you're just looking at this game, Neuer has been much better over the last few years -- and up until this point in the tournament. He's who I'd want in my goal.

ADVANTAGE: Germany


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