Scolari readies for semis sans Neymar

Thursday, July 10, 2014
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil -- Brazil manager Felipe Scolari insisted that his squad have left the shock of Neymar's tournament-ending back injury behind them, while captain Thiago Silva was more concerned with Colombia defender Juan Camilo Zuniga's foul that caused the injury to his team's star player.

Speaking at the team's pre-match press conference ahead of Tuesday's FIFA World Cup semifinal against Germany, Silva didn't hold back in his assessment of the challenge Zuniga on Neymar, which took place in Brazil's 2-1 quarterfinal victory last Friday. Zuniga kneed Neymar in the back in an attempt to win an aerial challenge, with the Brazilian suffering a fractured lumbar vertebra.

"[It was a] coward tackle," said Silva with the help of a translator about Zuniga's challenge. "I do not think it was normal. I know how to mark a player. That's not done. There's no way you can put a knee behind the player."

Silva is suspended for Tuesday's match after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament, meaning Brazil will be missing two key players in its bid to reach a World Cup final for the first time since 2002.

"My heart will be on the field," he said. "So will the heart of Neymar."

Neymar sent a message to his fans via Twitter on Tuesday: "Thank you for the messages of #Jogapraele from all of you and all of friends on the team. Now I'm asking and all of Brazil is asking the team to #PlayforMe".

Agradeço as msgs #JOGAPRAELE de todos vocês e dos parceiros da seleção. Agora, peço junto com o Brasil: #JogaPraMimpic.twitter.com/phdzyCDWy8

- Neymar Jr (@neymarjr) July 8, 2014Neymar also thanked his fans for their support via Facebook.

"I can't thank all the affection and the thousands of messages of support I have received since Friday ... I wanted to be able to speak more than one language to thank everyone. Followed, or tried to follow everything that was published ... were these messages that made these last days less painful. Today I'm going to watch the Brazil game against Germany on the outside. I'm going to be one more among the 200 million fans and I know how important it is for those guys inside the field, our support our cheers!! That's why I wanted to thank everyone who sent their positive energy for me and also I wanted to ask you to support [the team] together until the last second because I want very, very much to be with everyone (fans and my teammates) next Sunday in the field ... at the Maracanã. God is faithful!!"

Scolari, not surprisingly, declined to tip his hand as to who will replace Neymar and Silva. Bernard and Willian are in the running to replace the former, while Bayern Munich defender Dante is the leading candidate to replace Silva. Scolari did say that it was time for whoever takes the field to step up.

"Obviously, in Neymar leaving us, he left a lot of himself with us," said Scolari. "We've left it behind. The way he spoke to the players made the players understand that he had done his share. Now, it's us that have to do our share."

Scolari was manager when Brazil defeated Germany in the 2002 World Cup final. But he was also twice on the losing end against Germany while managing Portugal, once in the third place game at the 2006 World Cup, and also in a Euro 2008 quarterfinal.

"They have a very good team in defense, midfield and the strikers," said Scolari. "They have a good game plan. I don't think we can say we can feel okay. Germany has a very good team and we cannot forget, this German team has been organized for six years. They have a good balance. They have good teamwork. We must respect everything Germany has to give. 



"We can't respect them without also showing the way we play. We're going to do the things the way we do them. In doing that, we're going to cause them some difficulties.

Related Video
Do Brazil have a chance without Neymar?
Do Brazil have a chance without Neymar?
The ESPN FC World Cup Encore panel debate whether or not Brazil will be able to win the World Cup without Neymar.
Was tackle on Neymar cowardly?
Was tackle on Neymar cowardly?
ESPN FC's expert panel discuss the tackle on Neymar and if it was cowardly.
Where to play Philipp Lahm?
Where to play Philipp Lahm?
The ESPN FC World Cup Encore panel Philipp Lahm's ability to be deployed in multiple roles and how it helps Germany.
Luiz named Brazil's captain against Germany
Luiz named Brazil's captain against Germany
Many questions remain with Brazil's back line but coach Luiz Felipe Scolari announced David Luiz as the man wearing the captain's armband against Germany on Tuesday.
Germany prepared for any and all surprises
Germany prepared for any and all surprises
Neymar and Thiago Silva are out for Brazil, but Germany coach Joachim Low must expect the unexpected against Luiz Felipe Scolari's deep squad.
Can Brazil live up to their famous shirt?
Can Brazil live up to their famous shirt?
With Neymar's World Cup over and Thiago Silva suspended, how will the hosts cope without their two most influential players? Merely reaching the semi-final will not satisfy an expectant nation.
History is on Brazil's side
History is on Brazil's side
Brazil have won all three competitive fixtures against Germany. Scolari will hope to extend their unbeaten record for a spot in the final at the Maracana.
Low: 'Brutal' fouls must be stopped
Low: 'Brutal' fouls must be stopped
Ahead of his team's semifinal with Brazil, Germany coach Joachim Low has called on Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez to clamp down on the "brutal" challenges he believes characterised the hosts' quarterfinal match with Colombia.
Related Topics:
sports espn brazil fifa world cup germany
(Copyright ©2014 ESPN Internet Ventures.)

Load Comments