Brazil’s advancement to the semi finals of the World Cup with victory over Colombia will have been a bittersweet moment. The players will undoubtedly, and rightly, be ecstatic at having made the semi finals. One step closer to glory on Big Phil’s Seven Step World Cup Plan.
However, the ecstasy has been dampened by news that Neymar, the poster boy of these World Cup finals, will miss the rest of the tournament having suffered a fractured vertebra.
In one game, the World Cup has lost two of it’s shining lights in Neymar and the hugely impressive James Rodriguez.
Both players will be dearly missed, but whilst Colombia get to go home with heads held high and dream about what might have been, the Brazilians have to prepare themselves for a semi final against Germany, in which they will be without not only their star player, but also their captain Thiago Silva who will be suspended for the match.
There are many reasons to feel fearful for Brazil. Despite reaching the semi final of the World Cup, they have still not clicked as a fully functional unit. Neymar dragged them to the knock-out stages virtually singled handedly, and they seem to be gripped with fear and panic whenever they take to the field.
That said, an injury to Neymar may compel the Brazilians to play more as a team. When your one star player is no longer available, the onus naturally falls on others to step up to the mark and take on more responsibility.
Oscar, for example, will now be tasked with playmaking duties. He won’t be able to do it alone, and I would expect Willian to come into the starting line up in place of Neymar, and operate along with Oscar and Hulk in an interchanging creative three behind the still misfiring Fred.
Luiz Gustavo will be back from his own suspension, and will in all likelihood replace Paulinho, to form a solid midfield pairing with Fernandinho, who has been hugely impressive since being given his chance.
Silva will be a hard man to replace, but Dante knows most of the German players very well as a result of his time in the Bundesliga, so I would expect him to come in for the skipper.
All in all, Neymar has tragically been forced to miss the rest of his own party. It falls on his teammates to ensure that the party continues.