RIO DE JANEIRO — What it lacks in beauty, Brazil's World Cup team is making up for with backbone.
The home side is now just one step from a World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium. Standing in the way: a German team desperate for the trophy after narrow brushes with success since its last major tournament win in 1996
Brushing off media criticism and questions about its mental strength, Brazil beat Colombia 2-1, sending home one of the tournament's most exciting teams and its electric young talent, James Rodriguez.
While that was a scratchy, high-octane encounter in Fortaleza, Germany's 1-0 victory over France at the Maracana in the other quarterfinal Friday was cagey and methodical, with German efficiency trumping French over-elaboration and wastefulness.
Three of the four goals Friday were scored by defenders, as France's forward line came up empty and, as so often in football, Brazil-Colombia didn't quite live up to its pre-match billing as a battle of two brilliant goal-scoring young talents — Rodriguez and Brazil's Neymar.
Mats Hummels headed in Germany's winner in the 13th minute. Brazil's center-back pairing of Thiago Silva and David Luiz got the goals that meant they have still yet to lose when coach Felipe Scolari has started them together.
Rodriguez put Colombia on the score-sheet and made the last 15 minutes very uncomfortable for Brazil with a coolly-taken penalty that took his tournament-leading tally of goals to six.
Incredibly for two powerhouse teams that have won eight World Cups between them, the Germany-Brazil semifinal next Tuesday in Belo Horizonte will be just the second time the two nations have met at the showcase tournament. Brazil won the first meeting: 2-0 in the World Cup final of 2002.
Brazil will be without Silva, its captain, against Germany after he picked up his second yellow card of the tournament for a foolish foul on Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina. Brazil also has injury worries with Neymar, who was stretchered off after Juan Zuniga kneed him in the back.