Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
Brazil will learn on Tuesday what life is like without Neymar.
Heading into their World Cup semifinals match against Germany (4 p.m. ESPN), Brazil will be missing not only their talismanic goal-scorer but also their top defender and captain, Thiago Silva, giving manager Luis Felipe Scolari plenty to think about in the run up to the match.
While Dante is expected to step in and start alongside David Luiz in defense, there’s plenty of question over who will replace Neymar, whether it’s Bernard, Willian, or possibly even Ramires. There’s also questions over who can shoulder the scoring load, considering Neymar has scored four goals in the tournament and the team relied on him heavily to score or create chances. Neither Fred nor Jo so far have lived up to the expectations as the lone forward up top.
Interestingly enough, Germany have been without one of their key playmakers, Marco Reus, since before the start of the World Cup. Both Mesut Özil and Toni Kroos have done outstanding jobs though during the tournament to make people forget about the Reus injury.
Joachim Löw has some questions of his own heading into the match, which is Germany’s fourth straight World Cup semifinals appearance.
Captain Philipp Lahm was played at his more natural right back position for the first time during this tournament in Germany’s 1-0 victory over France, allowing Jerome Boateng to slide in alongside Mats Hummels and have Bastian Schweinsteiger start alongside Sami Khedira in defensive midfield.
Löw could certainly keep his formation or he could revert to having Lahm back in defensive midfield, which would mean a move back to the bench for Schweinsteiger and a place back in the starting XI for Per Mertesacker.
Germany’s methodical play might play in Brazil’s hands though, as they’re set up for counter attacks, especially if the centerbacks can quickly get the balls out wide to the wingers.
Amazingly, Tuesday’s match is only the second time that Brazil and Germany have met in the World Cup. The last time was the World Cup final in 2002, when Brazil beat Germany, 2-0.
What do you think of today’s World Cup match-up? Who do you think has the advantage? Who do you expect to start in place of Neymar?
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