The 2014 World Cup is finally down to the semifinals, with the host Brazil (+175 on the 3-way line) facing some additional challenges on Tuesday against Germany (+175) at 1 p.m. (PT) without injured star Neymar and suspended captain Thiago Silva in the lineup (click here to check latest World Cup soccer lines).
On Wednesday, Argentina (+140) squares off against The Netherlands (+220) at 1 p.m. in hopes of advancing to Saturday's World Cup final for the first time since 1990 in Italy, when the team finished as runner-up to West Germany four years after winning the World Cup in an identical matchup in Mexico. Brazil, Germany and Argentina are all listed as 5/2 to win the World Cup at the LVH SuperBook in Las Vegas while the Dutch are 3/1.
Here are four key questions answered by FOX Sports Soccer Betting Analyst Todd Fuhrman on the final four of the World Cup...
Q: Injuries could obviously play in huge role in determining who ends up winning the World Cup now. What is the impact of Neymar being out for Brazil and how important is Argentina's Angel Di Maria to his team? Are both teams good enough to overcome losing them and win the World Cup?
Fuhrman: Neymar is a world-class talent, but he's still not on the same level as Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi in terms of his value to the number. Of course Brazil will lack creativity up front now, but it's not as though they're grabbing someone from a pick-up game in Rio De Janiero to replace him. As far as Di Maria, his loss hurts the Argentinian midfield, but there's are enough elite playmakers to overcome his absence.
Q: After a run of OVERs in the early-round games, the trend has gone the other way with a lot of UNDERs. Do you expect that trend of low-scoring games to continue in the semifinals since the teams are so evenly matched?
Fuhrman: The deeper you get into a tournament like the World Cup, the "uglier" soccer becomes. Teams look to get 1 goal and then defend like hell or using the correct soccer terminology park the bus to preserve that victory.
Q: Are these really the four best teams in the field? History seems to think so, as these teams have played in the World Cup final a combined 20 times in the last 40 years, winning 10 of 19 World Cups overall. Thoughts?
Fuhrman: I'm not sure the Dutch are 1 of the 4 best, but it's hard to argue with how they've played this tournament. They're no stranger to World Cup success, but they're notorious for being bridesmaids, never a bride. It's not shocking to see Germany, Argentina and Brazil making a deep run when you consider they were 3 of the tournament favorites (along with Spain) before the event started.
Q: What player(s) may not be big names but still could end up playing a huge role in who wins the World Cup?
Fuhrman: Goaltenders don't get enough credit for their role in this tournament. As we saw from the Dutch in their quarterfinal game against Costa Rica, it was backup Tim Krul entering just for penalty kicks that changed the game. In 2 tightly contested games like we'll see this week, it's the goalie that avoids the big mistake that puts his team in a position to advance.