While Brazil advanced to the World Cup 2014 round of 16, they’ll have to cope without the services of midfielder Luiz Gustavo in the quarterfinals.
The Wolfsburg star was cautioned for a rash challenge on Arturo Vidal in a cagey affair in Belo Horizonte with the scores level at 1-1, as Bundesliga reported:
Gustavo has started every one of the hosts’ matches in the World Cup so far and has been key behind their success with his tough-tackling style and exceptional distribution.
Though the 26-year-old recently said that leaving Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich to join Wolfsburg was “a learning curve”—per FIFA.com—he showed a real lack of intelligence when he flew in on Vidal.
The Chile star was just a yard faster than Gustavo in the tackle, but the fact that he hadn’t been booked long before then is rather puzzling.
Gustavo had been struggling to cope with the intensity of Chile’s play, and persistent fouling put him in the book before manager Luiz Felipe Scolari could haul him off to save a suspension.
If Brazil do find a way past Chile, then they’ll miss the holding midfielder and will likely start Premier League duo Paulinho and Fernandinho together for the first time in the tournament against either Colombia or Uruguay.
As Selecao Brasileira revealed, the contribution of Gustavo to the Brazilian cause is incredibly important despite his distinct lack of time in the spotlight:
Luiz Gustavo misses next game if Brazil qualified. Lost our most important midfielder...— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStats) June 28, 2014
While Gustavo’s booking will give Brazil a problem should they advance to the next round, it’s also left him with a need to change his playing style for the remainder of the Chile clash.
He can no longer go into tackles with his usual, ferocious style, as leaving his nation with 10 men would be a recipe for disaster.
Brazil are under immense pressure to win the 2014 tournament, but they need a player of Gustavo’s quality to go all the way.
With the midfielder out of the next round should Brazil get through, the hosts’ tournament may be coming to a premature end.