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.
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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.