No Neymar, no problem?
The absence of Brazil's talismanic striker from the team's World Cup semifinal match against Germany will indeed be a heady issue to deal with, but the Selecao will be better off adopting a confident attitude in order to salvage its World Cup title hopes.
Neymar will be out the remainder of the tournament with a fractured vertebra, as per BBC Sport:
Brazil's team doctor says Neymar ruled out of World Cup with fractured vertebrae— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 4, 2014
Bad news for Brazil, who will have to take on Thomas Mueller, Mesut Ozil and the tactical acumen of coach Joachim Low to reach the final.
Here are the opening line odds and my prediction for this World Cup clash between two titans of the global game.
|Date||Time (ET)||TV||Brazil Win Odds||Germany Win Odds||Draw Odds|
|July 8||4 p.m.||ESPN||3-2||9-5||12-5|
Odds: Oddshark.com, match info: FIFA.com
(Note: Opening line odds courtesy of Odds Shark.)
Match Preview and Prediction
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari will have to scramble to come up with a strong game plan in time to play Germany. It's rare that a match of this caliber will be determined by a player's absence, but such is the case in this one.
ESPN Stats & Info pointed out Neymar's overall impact at this World Cup:
The 22-year-old wunderkind wasn't just there to finish off plays; he was constantly on the ball in the tournament, a speedy, darting catalyst for many of Brazil's strongest attacks.
Brazil will rely on Hulk, Jo and Fred to lead the line and create its attacks against Germany. Jo might not be the best option, as he's been particularly wasteful in his two appearances in the World Cup. He's completed just 40 percent of his passes in the tournament and failed to get any of his three shots on target against Chile, as per WhoScored.com.
Brazil center back David Luiz has been an unlikely source of goals for his team in this tournament. He's popped up for two in the World Cup—after failing to find the scoresheet in his first 39 games with the Selecao—and could be the team's designated free-kick taker after his stunner against Colombia. Via ESPNFC:
WATCH: David Luiz's remarkable free kick goal. Goal of the tournament status » http://t.co/42nhYjJXn6— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 4, 2014
Lost in the aftermath of Neymar's injury is the fact that the Selecao will be without one of its strongest defenders. Brazil center back Thiago Silva will also be absent from this match due to an accumulation of yellow cards. He's been a menacing presence for Brazil in this World Cup, although not quite up to his club form. Silva averaged 1.0 tackle, 1.4 interceptions and 1.6 blocked shots in five tournament matches, as per WhoScored.com.
This could open things up for Germany on the attack. Henrique will be the likely replacement for Silva and will find it difficult to keep up with Mueller's clever runs into space.
Fullbacks Marcelo Vieira and Maicon will have to work hard to close down space on Mesut Ozil and Mario Goetze. Germany has been grinding out wins in this tournament, but they know how to play a beautiful, intricate game when they have the chance.
Grantland's Brian Phillips did give his take on Germany's ruthless efficiency:
This German team just slowly puts you to sleep, like the purr of your precision-engineered Mercedes S-Class as you drift over the center lin— Brian Phillips (@runofplay) July 4, 2014
What will be the outcome of Brazil-Germany?
Coach Low should commit more men forward, as Scolari will likely rein in Paulinho and Fernandinho to protect the back line while sacrificing some attacking verve. Die Mannschaft fired off just nine shots, three of them on target, in its 1-0 win over France in the quarterfinal, per WhoScored.com.
Low will likely seize the opportunity and go directly at Brazil, hoping to push the pace and notch a goal from the run of play before the opposition has time to regroup.
Oftentimes these hardships bring out the best in teams as they look to one another for inspiration and support in times of crisis. Brazil will still come out with a prideful, aggressive performance for its supporters, but the German football machine doesn't bother with feelings.
Prediction: Germany 3-2 Brazil