Brazil launched a desperate prayer to have skipper Thiago Silva’s ban for their World Cup semi-final against Germany overturned on Sunday, but Argentine hopes of seeing Angel DI Maria in action were ended by injury.
Doctors confirmed Di Maria will miss the semi-final against the Netherlands because of a thigh problem but did not rule the winger out of being fit for the final should Argentina prevail in Sao Paulo on Wednesday.
“Angel has a Grade 1 injury. Of course he won’t play in Argentina’s next game. Afterwards that, we’ll appraise the situation, day-by-day,” team doctor Daniel Martinez told reporters.
Brazil captain Thiago Silva was also expected to miss the semi-finals after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament in the 2-1 win over Colombia in the last eight on Friday.
The central defender was cautioned for needlessly blocking keeper David Ospina as he was calling for a kick and FIFA said they were studying an appeal from the Brazilian Football Association.
His presence in the squad on Tuesday would be a huge bonus for a Brazilian public still reeling from the loss of striker Neymar, who was governed out of the remainder of the tournament after fracturing a vertebra in the win over Colombia.
That incident went on to look in Sunday’s sports news bulletins on local TV, but Brazil’s former World Cup winning captain Carlos Alberto Torres hoped it might end up being a good portent for the current team.
The 1970 skippers recalled how Amarillo and Garrincha had stepped up to occupy the void left with an injury to Pele in 1962 and helped steer Brazil to the rubric.
Germany were sure Neymar’s absence would not undermine the challenge confronting them in Belo Horizonte, with Bastian Schweinsteiger expecting Brazil to draw strength from the adversity suffered by their posterboy.
Schweinsteiger’s coach Joachim Loew, however, was more concerned about the methods Brazil might use in the mouth-watering last four clash, wary of a repeat of the tough tackling that marked their win over Colombia.
“There’s precious little left of that traditional Brazilian style of soccer, that the artistic mode of acting that we all know so well,” Loew said in an audience at his team’s base camp along the Atlantic coast.
“For sure, Brazil still have good technical players. But they’re playing more robustly than any other team here and they have been trying to break up their opponent’s attack that way.”
Brazil has got no apology for the 31 fouls they committed against Colombia and Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul was another quarter-final victor unrepentant for his activities.
Krul replaced the first – choice keeper Jasper Cillessen specifically for the quarter-final shootout against Costa Rica, staring down his opponents and shouting out at them as they prepared to shoot.
The gamesmanship resulted in him saving Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana’s spot-kicks to set up the last four clash with Argentina.
“I didn’t shout anything nasty at them. I just told them that I knew where they were going. I’m trying obviously to get in their heads and it worked,” he said.