Brazil's Scolari in quandary over who replaces Neymar
Brazil
Brazil's coach Luiz Felipe Scolari gestures as he arrives for a training session in Fortaleza, Brazil, Thursday, July 3, 2014 (Photo: AP)
AFP
Saturday 5 Jul 2014
321 Views
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari faces a potentially make or break decision as to who replaces injured star Neymar in his starting line-up for the World Cup semi-final with Germany on Tuesday

The moment two minutes from the end of normal time in the quarter-final that Colombian Juan Camilo Zuniga kneed Neymar in the back fracturing a vertebrae could come to be seen as the action that cost the hosts their sixth World Cup.

However, Scolari -- who guided Brazil to the 2002 trophy -- cannot dwell on the loss but move on and decide who he can replace the 22-year-old with and that is no easy task.

For Neymar had all but singlehandedly got the team this far with four goals, two well weighted corners that resulted in goals and a nerveless fifth penalty in the last 16 shootout with Chile which turned the pressure onto Chilean defender Gonzalo Jara who missed his and allowed Brazil to progress.

While Oscar and David Luiz -- who scored a superb goal with a long range freekick against Colombia -- can take care of the dead ball kicks, the two names that are mentioned as favourites to replace Neymar in the starting XI are Bernard and Willian.

"Overall Willian and Bernard have the same characteristics as Neymar," commented Brazil captain Thiago Silva, who has also complicated Scolari's plans for the semi-final as he is suspended after picking up a booking against Colombia.

Bernard replaced Willian, when he left for Chelsea last year, at Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk costing them 25million euros ($34million, £20million) but the 21-year-old is light of frame and prone to run all over the place whereas Willian remains in position and is a specialist at delivering the killer final pass.

If Scolari baulks at handing either player the responsibility of the position which he had created specifically for the team's best player -- and neither would fit that bill even in Neymar's absence -- then the coach could toughen up his midfield at the expense of creativity.

There he would be helped with the return of Luiz Gustavo, who was suspended for the Colombia game, alongside fellow enforcers Fernandinho, who gave James Rodriguez a hard time of it in the quarter-final, and Paulinho.

Fred, who had yet another poor match, would be asked to drop back a little with the musclebound Hulk and the more dainty Oscar supplying him from the wings.

The man himself Scolari had not yet given it much thought as he absorbed the shock of losing the man around whom he has effectively built his dreams of delivering the World Cup at home.

"I need time to think about it, that I see how the others recover and after that I will make my decision."

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)





Short link:

 

Add Comment
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.