Brazil will be without captain Thiago Silva for their World Cup semi-final against Germany after FIFA on Monday turned down an appeal against his yellow card, denting home hopes of hoisting the trophy for the sixth time.
The servers were already losing their most gifted player, injured striker Neymar, but coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said his side had absorbed the disappointment of his absence and were looking ahead to Tuesday’s match in Belo Horizonte.
“The team will miss the way he acts, the happiness. I’m certain that tomorrow they will play for Neymar, but also for themselves and, above all, for the goal of the whole group – to measure up for the final,” he told newsmen
“He has managed his part, now it’s up to us, myself, Thiago, the others and all the Brazilian people. This is the match where we are playing for everything we dreamed of, for each and every one of us, and for Neymar.”
Latin American fans are hoping Brazil meet their arch-rivals Argentina in soccer’s biggest showcase at the Maracana stadium, but the Netherlands and Germany stand in their path as four heavyweight teams slug it out in the semi-finals.
First up are Brazil, who have yet to polish at a tournament in which they are feeling the weight of 200 million people’s expectations on their shoulders.
Anything but winning the World Cup on home soil would be a national disaster, even though Brazil has won the trophy five times, more than any other country.
When Colombia defender Juan Zuniga clattered into Neymar with his knee in the quarterfinals, breaking a bone in his spinal column, there was a mix of shock and anger among Brazilians who knew the injury was a major blow to their prospects.
FIFA ruled on Monday that Zuniga would not be penalized for the challenge, because regulations prevent the ruling body from revisiting an incident that is dispensed with by the referee on the pitch.
Thiago Silva, even so, was still fuming. “In my view, it was a cowardly tackle,” the suspended captain said. “I am a defender and you don’t manage that.
There’s no way you put a knee behind a musician to take a ball in front, unless you want to induce a certain situation.” Germany are undefeated in Brazil, simply have not faced a Latin American team still.
Their four wins were against Portugal, the United States, Algeria and France with a draw against Ghana.
The other semi-final, between Argentina and the Netherlands, will be met in Sao Paulo on Wednesday, and while the South Americans will look to forward Lionel Messi for inspiration, the Dutch have their own match-winner in Arjen Robben.
Messi, who many think is the best footballer of his contemporaries, has lit up the tournament with four goals and intelligent passing, and with him in the team Argentina has a respectable prospect of winning the World Cup for the third time