Brazil will cope without their injured forward Neymar and make it through to the Fifa World Cup final, says coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Barcelona star Neymar fractured a vertebra in last week’s 2-1 win over Colombia and will not be making further appearances in the tournament.
Neymar has played a vital role in the five-time champions’ progress on home soil, having being involved directly or indirectly in halve of the country’s goals.
The wonderkid’s absence has left many wondering how ‘La Selecao’ will cope in Tuesday’s semi-final against a fired-up Germany team, but the former Chelsea coach has challenged the rest of his squad to reach Sunday’s final for the 22-year-old.
“He has done his share,” the Brazil coach said at a press conference on the eve of the match. “Now it’s up to us to do our share.
“This match we’ll be playing not just for ourselves but for our country, for everything we’ve ever dreamed of, but also for Neymar and everything he’s done for us. Within our group, we’ve accepted that. We’ve left our sad phase behind and we’re focusing on other things.”
The match at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte has been labeled ‘revenge mission’ for the Germans, who in 2002 were pipped on their track to a fourth Fifa trophy by another Scolari-tutored side.
On the prospective player to fill the vacuum left by Neymar’s absence, Scolari, 65, has kept his cards close to his chest.
“Neymar is one of our references and one of the best players in the world, but we have another 22 players who have been hand-picked and capped because we know they are special,” he added.
“We will miss Neymar, but we have a team who can overcome the difficulties and go on into the next round.”
He, however, insists he will prepare his team to bring ‘Die Mannschaft’s’ attack threat to naught, even if it requires setting up against the book. All he ask of the 200 million football-loving Brazilians is their trust.
“Playing with three defensive midfielders is an option,” he said.
“If I have two players in there, the full-backs will have less freedom but I might be able to add something that imposes a bit more damage on Germany too.
“I know the starting line-up. Tomorrow, when they walk on to the field, you will see why I made those choices. I want to tell the Brazilian people: we’re doing our best, and doing what we think is necessary.
“Sometimes not in a very beautiful way, but we’re moving forward. One step at a time towards the final.”