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Life for Brazil without Neymar

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil - Even without Neymar, Brazil's show must go on.

The World Cup hosts, now forced to play without their injured superstar, will face Germany tomorrow morning for a spot in next weekend's final.

Neymar fractured a vertebra in his lower back in Brazil's quarter-final win over Colombia, ruling him out for the rest of the tournament.

But despite having to stay off the field, the 22-year-old striker with the dyed-blonde fauxhawk is still expecting Brazil to win its sixth World Cup title.

"I won't be able to fulfil the dream of playing in a World Cup final," Neymar said, "but I'm sure they will win this one, they will become champions, and I will be there with them, and all of Brazil will be celebrating together".

Along with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar was among the biggest stars at the World Cup.

His play on the field lived up to the hype, with four goals in the group stage.

He continued to make an impact, albeit without any more goals, in the knockout games until he took a knee in the back late in the match against Colombia.

The question for Brazil now, however, is who will step up to replace Neymar as the focal point of the attack?

The much-maligned Fred has been largely ineffective so far, while Hulk has also failed to score for the hosts.

And making things tougher on Brazil is the suspension of captain Thiago Silva.

The Paris Saint-Germain defender scored the first goal in the quarter-final victory, but later picked up a yellow card for foolishly impeding the Colombia goalkeeper.

Because it was his second yellow of the tournament, he must sit out the match against Germany.

Brazil has played Germany only once at the World Cup, winning 2-0 in the 2002 final. But the Germans, who will be making their 13th appearance in the semi-finals, have reached the final seven times and won three of them.

The winner of tomorrow's match will face either Argentina or the Netherlands in next Sunday's final.

And if it's Neymar's teammates that prevail, the match at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro will be sadly missing the country's favourite son.

"I'm certain," Neymar said, "that my teammates will do whatever possible so I can fulfil my dream of being a champion."

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