Brazil went into this summer’s World Cup as favourites to win the trophy on home soil.
The Selecao face Germany this evening in the semi-final without star players Neymar and Thiago Silva. The loss of two of Brazil’s biggest players will be a major blow for the home nation.
Barcelona forward Neymar is the poster boy of Brazilian football and the undoubted star of the national team. He had shown flashes of his ability at the tournament.
The forward’s tournament was cruelly ended by Colombia defender Juan Camilo Zuniga in Brazil’s 2-1 quarter-final victory.
Zuniga’s terrible challenge resulted in the youngster breaking a vertebra in his back and ruled him out of the rest of the tournament. The injury must have been devastating for the player and the whole of the Brazilian nation.
PSG centre-back Thiago Silva will also miss the semi-final with Germany after picking up his second booking of the tournament against Colombia. He could be just as vital a loss as Neymar, as he is the man that anchors that Brazil defence alongside the more maverick David Luiz.
Germany is a very efficient team and will be very dangerous opponents to the host nation, especially now the Selecao will be missing Silva and Neymar. The absence of Silva could be vital with Germany forward Thomas Muller always looking a threat.
Muller’s Bayern Munich teammate Dante is likely to replace the suspended Silva and will most likely be the many handed the task of stopping the lively Muller.
Although, Germany have been efficient they have not looked spectacularly so far in Brazil. In truth their performances have been more attritional at times. If France had had more cutting edge then they may just have taken the quarter-finals into extra-time.
The German’s are in their fourth consecutive World Cup semi-final, which is a record. They should arguably provide Brazil with their biggest test of their World Cup credentials.
There is a theory that the loss of their star player may just galvanise the Brazilian team into winning the World Cup. There has been a lot of ‘let’s win it for Neymar’ floating around in Brazil and in the media.
It seems that everybody is now looking to PSG new boy David Luiz to be the inspiration from his centre-back position. Luiz scored a fantastic goal against Colombia in the quarter-finals and it seems he is now regarded as the team’s leader.
The former-Chelsea star is something of a free spirit, but he has been handed the responsibility of the team’s captaincy in the absence of Silva for the clash with Germany.
Brazil has not been particularly outstanding in the tournament, so they will need inspiration from somewhere.
Brazil will have to improve their performance if they are going to get the better of the wily Germans. The likes of Hulk, Fred and Oscar really need to start performing for the Selecao, because Germany will be well organised and will be hard to breakdown.
They will also be able to match the physicality of the Brazilian team. Germany boss Joachim Low has accused Brazil of some ‘brutal tackles’ against Colombia and called on Mexican referee Marco Antonio Rodriguez to clamp down on such tackles.
However, the German players are clever and are streetwise. They will be able to handle whatever Brazil throw at them. The Germany team have a tendency to spot the invisible sniper in the crowd and hit the deck.
The Mexican official needs to be strong, as both teams have a tendency to be sneaky in their falls and fouls. If the referee is strong then the game should be a good one, if not then the game could be painful to watch.
The host nation is actually slim favourites to make it to the final at odds of 17/10, even without their star duo. The home support is likely to give the Selecao a slight advantage, but the German players will be accustomed to playing in hostile atmospheres.
The semi-final is set-up for a good game of football and hopefully the best team on the night will win and we will not be talking about dirty tackles or officials tomorrow morning.
Can Brazil overcome loss of star players?