Neymar confident Brazil can win World Cup without him

Injured Neymar believes his teammates can win without him

BYE FOR NOW: Neymar waving to the cameras before being flown home to Sao Paulo by helicopter to recover.
“If the German team believe they’re coming up against a weak, discouraged side because we lost Neymar, I think they will be making a big mistake.” - Ex-Brazil star Ronaldo on their semi-final opponents Germany

Injured Brazil star Neymar thanked fans for their support and said his teammates will do everything to keep their dreams of winning the World Cup alive.
The 22-year-old, who has been ruled out of the World Cup with a fractured vertebra, has left his team’s training base in Terespolis in a helicopter and headed home to Sao Paulo to recover last night.
In a video released by the Brazil football federation this morning (Singapore time), he said: “My dream isn’t over. It was interrupted but it continues.
“I’m certain that my teammates will do everything possible so that my dream, which is to be a champion, comes true.”
Read the full report in our World Cup Noon print edition on July 6.
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Five areas Argentina must improve on

Messi and Co are in first semi-final since 1990, but there's much work to be done if they want to go all the way

DEFENSIVE ROCK: Martin Demichelis (right), with Belgium striker Divock Origi proves that he deserves a place in Argentina's starting 11.
Sergio Romero.
Ezequiel Lavezzi.
Gonzalo Higuain.

Like Brazil and Germany, Argentina have been rather less than the sum of their parts in the World Cup.
After their 1-0 win over Belgium this morning (Singapore time), Iain Macintosh says there are five areas they need to sharpen up for the semi-finals.
Read the full report in our print edition on July 6.
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Argentina won't win World Cup

Our analyst tells GARY LIM that La Albiceleste's shortcomings will be exposed by Holland in the semis

BUCK UP: Despite scoring the winner, TNP analyst Paul Parker feels that Gonzalo Higuain (above) can contribute more to the Argentina team.
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No Neymar, but Loew predicts 'beautiful' semi-final with Brazil

Germany believe semi-final against Brazil will be a spectacle despite the absence of the injured Neymar

Germany coach Joachim Loew.

Germany coach Joachim Loew is relishing the chance to take on hosts Brazil in Wednesday morning’s (Singapore time) semi-final, as his side bid to win a fourth world title.
Germany booked their semi-final place with a 1-0 last-eight win over France in Rio de Janeiro yesterday morning.
Hosts Brazil stand in the Germans’ path to the Maracana on July 13, but the Selecao will be without star striker Neymar, who has a fractured vertebra, and suspended captain Thiago Silva at Belo Horizonte’s Mineirao Stadium.
The loss of Neymar is a setback for the entire World Cup tournament, Germany assistant coach Hansi Flick said this morning.  
Read the full report in our print edition on July 6.
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Substance over style

1990 World Cup-winning captain Matthaeus says focus on defence could lead Germany to glory

WATER-TIGHT: Defensive players such as Benedikt Hoewedes(above,left)and Sami Khedira(above,right) will be crucial in Germany's bid to win a fourth World Cup.
If you want to become world champions, you have to win matches, and that means ugly victories, too... We have become spoiled over the last eight years with such a technically stylish team, and you did not expect this from Germany. - Former Germany captain Lothar Matthaeus
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Wilmots criticises 'ordinary' Argentina and their spoiling tactics

Wilmots blasts rivals' safe approach 
and slams ref for protecting Messi

BE SORRY: Marc Wilmots says if his side had played as cautiously as Argentina did, he would have been destroyed by the Belgian press.

Belgium coach Marc Wilmots labelled Argentina as “ordinary” and criticised their spoiling tactics, after his side lost 1-0 to them in their quarter-final in Brasilia this morning (Singapore time).
Gonzalo Higuain’s early goal was enough to decide the contest, after which Wilmots said he was proud of his team but derided Argentina’s approach.
Wilmots also claimed that Lionel Messi was given an easy ride by the referee, Nicola Rizzoli of Italy.
Said Wilmots: “We were not impressed by the Argentinians, they were just an ordinary team.”
Read the full report in our World Cup Noon print edition on July 6.
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Messi: This was our best match

Argentina superstar Lionel Messi.
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Van Gaal: I banked on Krul's extra wingspan

Van Gaal feels that reserve goalkeeper's extra wingspan will give him the edge in shootout

Holland boss Louis van Gaal.

It’s not often you see a coach pull his starting goalkeeper just before a penalty shootout begins, especially when a World Cup semi-final spot was at stake.
But that’s exactly what Holland boss Louis van Gaal (above) did this morning (Singapore time) when the 120 minutes were up, replacing Jasper Cillessen with reserve goalkeeper Tim Krul.
Krul, who plays his club football for Newcastle United, had stopped just two of 20 penalties in the Premier League coming into the World Cup.
But he turned out to be the hero for the Oranje, saving two Costa Rica penalties as the Dutch won 4-3.
The 1.93-metre tall Krul is 5.08cm taller than Cillessen, and van Gaal banked on that extra wingspan giving his team the edge, even if Krul was coming in cold.
Read the full report in our print edition on July 6.
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Early Higuain goal sends Argentina through to World Cup semi finals

Argentina's Lionel Messi and teammates celebrate winning the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals between Argentina and Belgium at the Brasilia national stadium in Brasilia.

An eighth minute goal by Gonzalo Higuain against Belgium on Sunday's (Jul 6) quarter-finals match against Belgium was enough to send Argentina through to the World Cup semi-finals.

Coming into the tournament following an ankle injury which he sustained while playing for his club side Napoli, he was struggling to find his touch before the goal.

 Source: Shuaitou

After his well taken goal, he was selflessly played the part of the lone striker up front.

With Argentina content to sit back on their lead, he was often a lonely figure in attack and did a superb job in holding up the ball and marking the Belgian defenders when they were trying to play the ball upfield.

“I said after the last game that he was the player who ran the most,” said Argentina's coach Alejandro Sabella.

“Today, in addition to running, he collaborated and scored a goal which is always important for a forward," he continued.

Sabella's faith in Higuan however was almost tested when he comically almost fell over from reacting to a Higuain's shot which hit the crossbar.

When Higuain hit the woodworkSource: Shuaitou

Higuain’s early goal on Saturday allowed them the luxury of sitting back and trying to catch Belgium on the break.

After the game it sees that the Belgian coach was not too impressed by Argentina's performance.

“I’m not at all impressed by Argentina,” Wilmots told a post-match press conference at Brasilia’s Mane Garrincha National Stadium.

“They’re a very ordinary team with one extraordinary player,” he added in an apparent reference to Lionel Messi. 

Sour grapes aside, Argentina move on to their first semi-final in 24 years and will face Netherlands on Thursday (Jul 10).

Source: AFP, Reuters, shuaitou



Quick-fire Kvitova

Czech demolishes Bouchard 
in under 
an hour

Petra Kvitova (above) in tears while holding the winner's Venus Rosewater Dish during the trophy presentation ceremony after her win.
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