Leon Wobschall: This World Cup semi-final line-up is one I will definitely toast

In love with this World Cup.
In love with this World Cup.
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BRAZIL, Germany, Argentina, Holland: if a well-known brand of continental lager did World Cup semi-final line-ups, this would be pretty close to it.

Four big-hitters who have lifted the greatest footballing prize of all a collective 10 times and been finalists on numerous other occasions.

Four sides on the precipice of either glory or despair, with demons to lance and desires to sate.

First up is a Brazilian side hamstrung by the grave absence of their main men in Neymar and Thiago Silva against that most tournament-conditioned and hardened of teams, Germany, in Belo Horizonte this evening.

The World Cup jury is still out on the Selecao, who have interspersed pragmatism with precious few touches of panache, nearly all conjured by Neymar.

But without the gifted Barcelona star, whose performances have lit up a nation, the question remains: who can possibly step up with Brazil holding out for a hero?

Back in Chile in 1962, an injury to Pele propelled Garrincha to centre stage. But can Willian do likewise or can his Chelsea team-mate Oscar take on the baton in a life-changing moment? What about you, Hulk? The tidal wave of emotion has been manifest in Brazil’s matches in Sao Paulo, Fortaleza and Belo Horizonte – the latter the venue for tonight’s irresistible offering.

Brazilian players were praying for divine intervention ahead of their penalty shoot-out win against the Chileans in Belo and they will require a touch of that, and the backing of their fans, as never before to shake the foundations of Germany.

Brazil’s frailty has been exposed by Neymar’s cruel injury. But in times of trouble, you rally round.

Tonight also marks a watershed moment for Germany, who have gone close, but ultimately received no cigar at their last four major tournaments – losing three semi-finals and one final.

Now is the time for Die Mannschaft and their ‘golden generation’ to immortalise themselves with a sporting nation weaned on victory.

Tomorrow’s offering also sees the Dutch and the Argentines contemplate moving to within touching distance of achieving their own Holy Grail.

Oranje fans will gather in Sao Paulo with memories of Johannesburg 2010 firmly in their minds, while the more seasoned ones may care to recollect their last World Cup jaunt to South America in Buenos Aires 1978. Another ‘if only’ moment.

For Argentina, winning back the World Cup on enemy territory is as close to Utopia as it gets. Enjoy the ride.