Luiz Felipe Scolari has got some decisions to make ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup semi-final against Germany. Once the dust has settled on the emotional victory over Colombia, a harsh reality will have to be addressed: Brazil will have to face Germany without their two best players.
Thiago Silva, captain and talisman, is suspended, whilst superstar Neymar has been brutally kneed out of the tournamen. Both will need to be replaced, but how do you replace the irreplaceable?
Dante to replace Silva?
The Thiago Silva situation seems a lot easier to deal with. I have no doubt that Dante of Bayern Munich will come in for him. Whilst Henrique has been used more often in training sessions when central defensive pairings have been tried out, Dante’s familiarity with the Germans through his association with Bayern Munich will see him drafted in. The captain’s armband will pass to the mercurial David Luiz.
Replacing Neymar will prove a totally different kettle of fish altogether, however. The simple thing to do will be to draft in Willian out wide and free up Oscar to focus more on playmaking. There are other options available though. Bernard could also be brought in to play wide with Oscar through the middle.
Change of formation?
Scolari is a pragmatist and is always striving to achieve a perfect balance with his sides. I wouldn’t be surprised if he went for a 4-3-3 with Ramires playing alongside Fernandinho and the returning Luiz Gustavo in midfield, with Hulk, Fred and Oscar further forward.
My personal preference would be for Hulk to be deployed as the central forward, jettisoning the thus far totally ineffective Fred in the process. I would have Willian and Oscar support him, with Ramires, Fernandinho and Luiz Gustavo holding in midfield.
Whatever way Scolari decides to go, Brazil will have their work cut out to get past the Germans.
Brazil have seemingly struggled to cope so far with the emotions of proceedings and the pressure of carrying the hopes and dreams of 200 million passionate Brazilians on their shoulders.
The injury to Neymar and absence of their captain could well push them over their edge in terms of their emotional turmoil. I’m hopeful, though, that it will actually galvanise them into pulling off a wonderful victory and a date with destiny in the Maracana on July 13.
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