Lionel Messi Argentina
Lionel Messi will be the man that Argentina rely on to fire them to the 20104 FIFA World Cup finalReuters

Brazil, without Neymar, Germany, serial semifinalists, Argentina, it all depends on Lionel Messi, and the Netherlands, serial finalists – four teams you would have put a lot of money on to reach the 2014 FIFA World Cup semifinals, four teams you can put a little more money on going all the way and lifting that iconic golden cup at the Maracana.

Two wins -- two more wins is all it takes for one of these teams to realise their dream and send a nation into delirium for the foreseeable future.

Act One of this Four Act Play (counting the "nobody wants to be in it" third-place playoff) will be performed by Brazil and Germany – one team beyond desperate to lift the title at home, and the other equally hungry to see the "golden generation" jump that final two hurdles and storm towards unending glory.

Brazil vs Germany doesn't get much better in the modern game, with Brazil, their style, individuality and panache coming up against a German well-oiled machine that is efficient, true and ridiculously effective.

At the beginning of the tournament, all of Brazil's hopes rested on one man's shoulders; and for the most part, he didn't let them down, starring, more often than not, in every single game that Brazil won to get to this semifinal.

However, come semifinal day on Tuesday, Brazil will not have Neymar to rely on – that outlet for that bit of magic will not be so readily available, and the hosts, up against the toughest opposition possible, will have little option, but to dig deep, find a bit of wizardry from their previously vast resources and pull a few rabbits out of the hat.

Because, Germany, even if they have been far from impressive themselves in this World Cup, will undoubtedly take field with their A Game. The football hasn't been as expansive as we have seen and come to expect from Joachim Low's men, but the results have remained the same – a record fourth straight appearance in the semifinals.

However, the caveat is, of those three previous semis, Germany have only made one final, and that too in the first one in 2002. Disappointment in the last four has almost become a norm for this German side, and this "golden generation" filled with ridiculously gifted players will want to put those nearly-there ghosts to rest.

The second semifinal, to be held on Wednesday, is another one to make your pulses race, as Argentina, with Messi in tow, take on the Netherlands and that searing pace and incredible stamina of Arjen Robben.

Holland got their World Cup campaign off to a blistering start, before tailing off a little bit towards the end. However, in Louis Van Gaal, they have a manager who just knows how to win; someone who has that ability to make the right decisions, even if it might seem insane, at the right time – perfectly shown when he substituted his No.1 goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen for Tim Krul, who then went on to make two crucial saves to knock Costa Rica out in the quarterfinals.

Argentina have their own magic man in Messi, who had the luxury of being relatively quiet in the Belgium game, as Gonzalo Higuain decided to take up the mantle. Messi, though, has shown in this World Cup, just how capable he is of lighting it up at the world stage as well, and this resolute Dutch defence will be tested to the hilt by the little man.

In a way, the Argentina game might suit the Netherlands more, with the South Americans likely to enjoy a lot more possession, opening up possibilities for the Dutch to go on that searing counter-attack.

Two matches poised on a knife's edge, way before kickoff; two matches that really can go either way, with an all-South American final (how awesome would that be!) or an all-European title clash quite possible.

Get the story about who can replace the injured Neymar HERE

Get the story about Mesut Ozil and his struggles HERE

FIFA World Cup Schedule: Semifinals:

8 July: Brazil vs Germany, Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte (5 pm local time, 1.30 am IST, 9 pm BST, 4 pm ET).

9 July: Netherlands vs Argentina, Arena De Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo (5 pm local time, 1.30 am IST, 9 pm BST, 4 pm ET).

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