By, Kyle Gibson
Thiago Silva lost the plot and interfered with David Ospina and Neymar took a knee to the back from Zuniga in the 88th minute, making captain Silva ineligible for the semifinal and Neymar out for the tournament.
Even though Brazil now finds itself in its first semifinal since Korea-Japan 2002, it’s now highly unlikely that the team can win the World Cup Final on home soil.
Neymar and Silva are the two most important players on the Brazilian team. The only players that could claim to be near as important this tournament are David Luiz and Julio Cesar. Neymar leads the team in goals, shots and touches in the attacking third. At times this World Cup, he has appeared to be the only real attacking presence Brazil has had, especially since striker Fred is (understatement) struggling. Neymar is a bright and talented playmaker who can set teammates up for a goal just as easily as he can score himself. This team was built around Neymar, now it will have to go without him.
Thiago Silva is the captain and stabilizing presence of the backline and team altogether. Getting himself suspended due to goalkeeper interference was an uncharacteristically dumb move by a man known for a clear head. Silva can mark, play forward and normally can bail out the sometimes careless Marcelo, Luiz and Dani Alves.
Without its captain, Dante will probably start against Germany. The big defender plays for Bayern Munich, so that could be an advantage considering he’ll know half the German roster, but Dante isn’t quite the leader that Silva is.
With Neymar out, I can see Paulinho staying in the lineup when Luis Gustavo returns from suspension. The key to the game against Germany will be Oscar, who can take over games when he wants to, but also go missing at times. I think Oscar will play a more advanced central role in the midfield, with Fred as solo striker. Oscar played sensationally against Croatia in Brazil’s first World Cup game, he will have to play even better against Germany.
Losing your best player and your captain can sink any team at the World Cup. For Brazil, however, fans will still expect nothing less than lifting the trophy. It will take a Herculean effort now, but as I’ve now learned, you can’t count this team out, especially with wizard Luis Felipe Scolari as manager.
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