World Cup 2014 panel

The World Cup’s final four

EPA/Oliver Weiken

Brazil, Germany, Argentina and the Netherlands have made it through to the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup.

The big surprise of the tournament is that Spain is not one of the semi-finalists. Spain came into the World Cup as the reigning world champions, with an Elo rating of 2086 points (ranked second) and ranked first in the FIFA rankings.

Most predictions for the World Cup had Spain as a semi-finalist. The Netherlands has taken their place, however. At the start of the tournament most bookmakers’ odds ranked the Netherlands in 12th place.

However, the Netherlands is ranked fifth in the Elo ratings. Aside from Spain, the highest Elo ratings teams have reached the semi-finals.

This World Cup has a vast amount of secondary data to contemplate. The FIFA website offers viewers access to these data.

Semi-Final 1: Brazil v Germany

  • Brazil has drawn two of the five games played, Germany one.

  • Both teams have scored ten goals.

  • Brazil has had more goal attempts than Germany per match.

  • Brazil is one of the teams that has conceded over 90 fouls to date.

  • Brazilian players have covered eight kilometres per game less than their German opponents.

  • Germany has been more accurate than Brazil in its passing and in successful completion of passes.

The game will be refereed by Mexican Marco Rodriguez. He has refereed two group games in the tournament (Belgium v Algeria; Italy v Uruguay). He has awarded a total of 77 fouls and given six yellow cards and one red card.

EPA/Sergey Dolzhenko

Semi-Final 2: Argentina v Netherlands

The Netherlands 5-1 defeat of Spain has been one of the most significant results of the 2014 World Cup. Spain scored first in that match. The Netherlands’ ability to come back against a higher Elo rated team was an important indicator of their potential.

  • The Netherlands’ opponents in this semi-final, Argentina are ranked one place above them with 30 more Elo Ratings points.

  • Argentina has won all five of its games, the Netherlands drew their last game and won in a penalty shootout.

  • Netherlands has scored 11 of its 12 goals in open play. Argentina has scored seven out of eight goals in open play. Argentina has had more shot attempts per game.

  • The Netherlands is the second team (with Brazil) to have conceded more than 90 fouls.

  • Argentinian players have rum five kilometres less than the Netherlands per game.

  • Both teams have similar pass completion ratios while Argentina has made 400 more passes than the Netherlands.

The game will be refereed by Cüneyt Cakir of Turkey.

EPA/Fernano Bizerra Jr

What to expect?

South American nations have won all of the World Cup tournaments played in South America. However, the last success was in 1978, when Argentina defeated the Netherlands.

Six Brazilian players travelled more than nine kilometres each in their quarter-final. Five German players covered more than ten kilometres (with Mueller very close to 11km). It will be interesting to see the pace of this game and the impact the Mexican referee will have on the management of the game.

Argentina goes into their semi-final having had 30 minutes less play (and a penalty shootout)in their quarter-final than the Netherlands. For Argentina, Biglia travelled more than 11 kilometres in the game against Belgium and three others travelled 10 kilometres.

The Netherlands players ended up travelling much further. Sneijder ran almost 14 kilometers in the game against Costa Rica and was in possession of the ball for six of those kilometres. Five teammates travelled 12 kilometres each.

Elo ratings suggest that Brazil and Argentina will win through as the higher ranked teams. Both European teams have run further than their South American opponents. However, in a tournament that saw Spain leave at the Group stage and Costa Rica progress to a quarter final, there may still be a few surprises left in store.

EPA/Koen Van Weel