The Brazilian nation should be bristling with positivity and excitement. The Selecao have overcome the enormous pressure heaped upon them by a fervent soccer nation. They’ve conquered some fearsome opponents and subsequently, they find themselves in the semi-final of a World Cup on home soil.
Just one win away from the final, two away from an unprecedented sixth world crown.
But after Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team managed to edge past Colombia in a quarter-final thriller, the overwhelming mood that swept the host country was bittersweet. There’s an uneasy apprehension and for the first time, a bit of doubt too.
That’s because if Brazil are going to make it to the World Cup final then they will have to do so without their inspirational captain Thiago Silva; if they’re going to go one better and win it it, they’ll have to do so without their top scorer and brightest star, Neymar.
So as Brazil gear up for their semi-final with Germany, let’s take a look at the challenges they’ll have to overcome without these two vital players and how Scolari’s men are set to fare against the challenges posed by Die Mannschaft.
Here’s how Brazil look set to line-up for the semi-final:
Brazil need a new talisman
For those watching this World Cup with a keen ear, you would have heard Brazilian fans at the game between Argentina and Belgium singing a lament for their stricken No.10, such is Neymar’s significance to the Selecao cause. But the defensive attributes of Silva—while a lot more understated than the attacking flourishes of the Barcelona man—have also been vital in Brazil’s run to the last-four.
Without these two key players, suddenly there’s no safety net for Brazilian supporters. There’s been a sense throughout this tournament that while the hosts haven’t played at their best in any of their matches so far, a defiant challenge from Silva or a sprinkling of genius from Neymar could help get them over the line. In the semi-final, that underpinning reassurance will be pulled from beneath them.
So it’s going to be an extremely nervous semi-final for those who back the men in yellow; without their key twosome they’re entering unknown territory, after all. But the Brazilian players that remain must see this as a wonderful opportunity to emerge as a much-needed talisman.
It could be David Luiz, who plays with a swashbuckling swagger and raw emotion that is so thrilling to watch. It could be Oscar, the man who shone in the tournament opener against Croatia, but has been on the periphery of games since. It could even be Hulk, the forward who has showcased glimpses of indisputable ability, but also an undesirable patent for snatching at chances when they arise.