A look at Brazil’s options upfront following injury to star player.It is already well acknowledged that this Brazil side looks a shadow of some of its former greats, and an incredibly gruelling World Cup semi-final meeting against Germany now awaits with Felipe Scolari’s side taking on one of the other tournament favourites without injured star Neymar.
The 22-year-old has lit up this competition so far, living up to the hype that he may well be his country’s brightest hope in an otherwise below-par generation of players, but the World Cup that looked destined to be his may now be slipping away from the host nation as they have few other attacking options to look to for inspiration.
Upfront, Brazil have just Hulk, Fred and Jo to choose from, none of whom have impressed so far at this World Cup, and none of whom you would class as being on the same level as some of the attacking options in the squads of the likes of Germany, Netherlands and Argentina, or even Colombia, whom Brazil were somewhat fortunate to eliminate from the competition in last night’s game. While Neymar has 35 goals in just 54 caps, the remaining trio hold an inferior record of 32 goals in 96 caps between them. The three players in question play for Zenit Saint Petersburg, Fluminese and Atletico Mineiro – a far cry from any of Europe’s top clubs, and it shows.
With so little happening upfront, it took goals from the two centre-backs to help the Selecao through, and even one of them, inspirational captain Thiago Silva, will be suspended in the crucial tie against Germany after picking up another yellow card in yesterday’s encounter. His defensive partner, the eccentric and erratic cult hero David Luiz, scored an absolute beauty of a free-kick to make it 2-0 in the second half, and while there is no disputing the quality of the strike, it is worth noting quite how many of those the former Chelsea man has been known to sky over the bar or drill straight into the wall before eventually getting it right against Colombia.
Quite simply, Brazil won’t get away with how they’ve been playing against opposition such as Germany, and it will be quite a task for Scolari to figure out something to trouble the solid German defence.
It may be worth throwing in exciting youngster Bernard as something of a wilcard; there is little to lose at this point as the more senior options simply haven’t delivered, and the Shakhtar Donetsk winger is tipped to be a star of the future, even if he hasn’t quite had an impact for his national side at senior level yet. Chelsea duo Oscar and Willian could also be tried further forward, though their work-rate and tenacity in midfield may be missed as Brazil take on some quality opposition in the Germany attacking midfield.
There is no obvious solution to this problem, and much like if Argentina lost Lionel Messi, it just doesn’t look like there is any replacement for Brazil’s wonderkid, who has been carrying his side thus far as they finally look like being exposed for their overall weaknesses.
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