The negatives of playing without its best player certainly outweigh the positives, but there is at least one part of Neymar’s tournament-ending injury that could help Brazil in its semifinal against Germany on Tuesday.
Brazil was labeled a favorite for this World Cup from the moment its home was announced as the location for the tournament, and the pressure that’s followed has been immense. Even in a perfect climate, being the host nation’s team in a World Cup provides lofty expectations. Throw in the political, social and athletic criticisms in Brazil this summer, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for stress.
So it follows that the injury to its 22-year-old superstar playmaker could help Brazil in one way: relief.
[ MORE – Preview: Expectations weight heavy on tournament favorites as Brazil faces Germany ]
[ SOCCERLY: Five things Brazil must do to defeat Germany ]
With Thiago Silva suspended and Neymar out, Brazil’s match-up against Germany has them even-odds at-best. In fact, online betting service Bovada has the match set as a “pick ’em”. Given the fact that Brazil is at home, potentially in front of 60,000 fans wearing their hero’s mask, this is a major nod to Germany.
And the drop-off from Neymar isn’t as great as it seems. Whether Jo, Oscar, Willian or someone else fills the gap, it will be a tremendously-talented substitute.
No, there aren’t a lot of goals on the bench for Luis Felipe Scolari, but there are a lot of speedy playmakers. And if Germany has a weakness, its the age and rigidity of their back line in front of Manuel Neuer.
For the first time in this tournament, perhaps for the first time in years, Brazil can enter a home match feeling like a bit of an underdog. Perhaps that will suit them better than anything else…
…short of having Neymar.
The Jose Mourinho-Bastian Schweinsteiger relationship is a very puzzling situation for Manchester United, and most outsiders appear to be taking the German’s side.
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Former teammate Lukas Podolski has chimed in on the matter, pointing out Schweinsteiger’s decorated career for both club and country.
[ MORE: Lewis Baker stuns Twente with long-distance golazo ]
Since the arrival of Mourinho this summer, the Portuguese manager has made it clear that the 32-year-old isn’t his plans, including dropping Schweinsteiger to United’s reserves.
Podolski recently spoke to Bild about the situation:
“When you look at the career Bastian has had, I can only say that what is happening there is simply not right for a player of his stature,” Podolski said.
“I do not know what Mourinho has discussed with Bastian. But is clear that it is not okay to drop someone like Basti to the reserves.
“A coach should always keep his door open to all players, and especially to players like Schweini.”
While Schweinsteiger’s contract doesn’t run out until 2018, the volatile relationship between the Red Devils midfielder and Mourinho certainly looks to be one that won’t last much longer.
The game was essentially over for Vitesse Arnhem, but Lewis Baker gave his fans something to cheer about in second-half stoppage time.
[ MORE: West Ham suffers embarrassing home defeat vs. Southampton ]
The on-loan Chelsea midfielder hit a lovely blast from over 30 yards out during Vitesse’s 2-1 loss against FC Twente on Sunday, as the ball dipped into the top corner and past goalkeeper Nick Marsman (Click on the video above).
Baker, 21, now has three finishes on the season in the Dutch Eredivisie after netting five during the 2015/16 campaign.
Perhaps this is a good sign of things to come for Chelsea fans.
West Ham is in a massive slump, and with questions being asked around the whole squad, captain Mark Noble has said things are at an all-time low.
“If I’m honest, it could have been six in the end had Adrian not pulled off some good saves. On the bright side I don’t think it can get any worse.” Noble claimed after the 3-0 home loss to Southampton. The London club has the worst defensive record in the Premier League, having given up 16 goals in six matches this season, with the most recent games especially bad.
[ RECAP: Charlie Austin, Dusan Tadic down West Ham 3-0 ]
“We’ve conceded 11 in three games and it’s laughable and not good enough. We know that,” Noble conceded. “To be honest I think we could have kept playing until tonight and I don’t think we would have scored. It doesn’t seem to be going in for us at the minute.”
But he also preached togetherness if the team is to lift itself out of the relegation zone.
“We’ve got to stick together and not blame each other,” Noble said. “We have to do this as a team, because it’s not good enough. You’ve got to work hard for each other. You can’t start talking in your little circles and blaming each other because we’ve got to look at ourselves. Luckily enough it’s early in the season and we’ve got a chance to turn it around.”
Schalke has spent 24 seasons in the German top flight, and made regular appearances near the top of the Bundesliga table in the past eight years.
This season is not looking true to that form. Schalke has yet to pick up a single point through five matches, with another loss today on the road at 9th-placed Hoffenheim 2-1. The visitors went ahead just four minutes in thanks to Eric Choupo-Moting, but they coughed up the lead, making way to goals from Lukas Rupp and former Leicester City midfielder Andrej Kramaric.
Schalke manager Markus Weinzierl only took charge this summer, and that has him already under pressure as the only team without a point in the German top flight, the club’s worst ever start to a Bundesliga season. Hoffenheim, meanwhile, picked up their first win, moving them to the top half of the table on seven points. The club had four draws in four matches up to this point.
Elsewhere, Red Bull Leipzig picked up a road point at FC Koln with a 1-1 draw. Both goal came early in the match, as 19-year-old Scotsman Oliver Burke scored just five minutes into his Bundesliga debut for Leipzig, and Koln answered on 25 minutes through Yuya Osako.
In that match, 20-year-old Leipzig striker Timo Werner became the youngest player to ever reach 100 appearances in Bundesliga play. Leipzig moves up to eight points with the draw, while Koln has 10 points moving them up to a surprising third, still without a loss.