Belo Horizonte (Brazil), July 7:
There is no escaping the impact of Neymar’s tournament-ending back injury on Brazil’s hopes of lifting a sixth World Cup title, but they seek to do “something different” in their Word Cup semifinal match against Germany here Tuesday, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said.
“We have lost something which we didn’t want to lose,” Xuinhua quoted Scolari as saying an interview with Brazilian television channel O Globo on Sunday. “But the group is already getting used to the fact that in the case of a catastrophe, there is a chance of doing something different.”
That difference will be seen when Brazil confront Germany in their Word Cup semifinal here, the 2002 World Cup-winning manager added.
Scolari has intimated that he will keep his trusted 4-2-3-1 formation at the Mineirao stadium, meaning Chelsea winger Willian or Shakhtar Donetsk’s Bernard are likely to take Neymar’s place on the left.
But even if Brazil retain their shape, the team will need new sources of inspiration in the absence of their 22-year-old talisman.
Among those Scolari will hope can step up is Oscar. The Chelsea midfielder has mostly been used in a wide role this tournament, but Neymar’s absence may mean Scolari gives him a license to operate centrally.
Neymar’s injury robs the Selecao not only of creativity, but of their chief scoring threat. Without him, there are serious doubts over where Brazil’s goals will come from.
Striker Fred has netted just once this tournament while his forward partner Hulk has just nine goals from 39 international matches.
Adding to Brazil’s concerns against Germany will be the absence of Thiago Silva for a second booking in the team’s 2-1 victory over Colombia in Fortaleza.
On a brighter note, they will regain holding midfielder Luiz Gustavo, who sat out the clash against Los Cafeteros due to suspension.
Germany coach Joachim Low is expected to maintain the starting lineup he used in the team’s 1-0 victory over France on Friday.
That will mean Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira holding his place in midfield and captain Philipp Lahm again starting at right-back.
These sides have not met in the World Cup since the 2002 final, which Brazil won 2-0 in Yokohama.
Since then Germany has made the semifinals twice while Brazil has been knocked out at the quarterfinal stage in successive tournaments.