Can Brazil win without Neymar? That’s the million dollar question ahead the first semifinal clash between the host, Brazil, and Germany, at the 2014 World Cup.
By now everyone knows what happened to Neymar, the 22-year-old Brazilian sensation, who was supposed to lead the Verde Amarela to glory, erasing the ghost of 1950, when Brazil lost the final to Uruguay. The loss was so devastating that it came to be known as the Maracanazo and hunts fans and players alike.
Everything changed for Brazil, when Neymar was forced out of the 2014 World Cup with a broken vertebrae. The shocking announcement came after Colombian defender Juan Zuniga’s violent knee to Neymar’s back, in the last minutes of the quarterfinal.
A lot of questions surround the clash between these two titans, one from South America, the other one from Europe. Brazil and Germany hold eight World Cup titles between them, with Brazil holding five of them and looking to become the winningest team ever.
However, since the 2014 World Cup was awarded to Brazil, all that people are talking about is the Maracanazo and how this is the country’s big chance to put that dark episode behind them. Neymar’s injury puts that wish in doubt.
Before the devastating blow, Brazil had failed to convince and moved on to the quarterfinals only after defeating Chile in a dramatic penalty shootout. In the groups stage, Brazil won their debut match against Croatia, they tied with Mexico, and in their most convincing match defeated Cameroon 4-1.
Germany came into the 2014 World Cup like a lion, with a 4-0 win against Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portugal, followed by a draw against Ghana, a 1-0 win against the USA, and narrow victories over Algeria (2-1) and France (1-0) to reach the semis. However, Germany has a depth on the bench that Brazil doesn’t, which could be decisive.
Germany’s secret weapon is goalie Manuel Neuer, who has been nearly impenetrable during the entirety of the 2014 World Cup and has only allowed three goals thus far. Brazil’s goalie, Julio Cesar, has allowed two in regular play, plus one penalty against Colombia, not including the shootout with Chile.
For Brazil, the most feared attacker is Germany’s Thomas Muller, who has had seven scoring opportunities in the tournament, the most of any player. With four goals and six assists, Muller is the second most influential footballer at the 2014 World Cup, second only to James Rodriguez, who has eight scoring influences.
Even though Brazil will not have Neymar to guide it, they will have something Germany is certain to be affected by, the crowd. The Torcida is sure to be as fervent as ever, as a whole nation pursues a dream that has lasted for the last 64-years. Kick-off is at 4 pm/ET from Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte.
[Image via Twitter]