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September 20, 2017

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Semi-finals offers few guarantees in home team match

BELO HORIZONTE -- As Brazil and Germany prepare to do battle in their World Cup semi-final on Wednesday, old stereotypes of both countries' soccer philosophies are being rewritten.

Amazingly for two World Cup powerhouses with 24 semi-final appearances, this will be just their second meeting in the competition after the 2002 final.

Back then a rugged German side that battled it's way to the final with a series of 1-0 wins on the back of the best goalkeeper in the tournament, Oliver Kahn, faced a Brazil side containing a magical front three of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo.

That night an uncharacteristic Kahn mistake put Luiz Felipe Scolari's Brazil on their way to a fifth title.

However, the only constants from 12 years ago may be that Scolari is back as Brazil boss and Germany still have the best keeper in the tournament in Manuel Neuer.

Even Neuer represents the German's style shift in the past decade with his sweeper-like ability to flee from his box and become an extra outfield player in building the play from the back.

Germany have played 500 more successful passes than anyone else in the competition and more than 1,000 more than Brazil, who still lag behind Chile despite having played a game more.

Since committing to attack when hosting the tournament in 2006, Germany have scored 40 goals in the last three World Cups helping them toward a record run of four consecutive semi-finals.

Their passage to the last four in Brazil by beating Algeria and France has also seen them lay to rest some ghosts of German soccer's less than glorious historical moments.

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