Football

Loew: Brazil more difficult to beat without Neymar

Germany coach Loew says the Selecao will be extra motivated to win the Cup for injured star Neymar

SEMI-FINAL

BRAZIL v GERMANY

(Wednesday, 4am, SingTel mio TV Ch 141 & 
StarHub TV Ch 223)

While the host nation is still coming to terms with the loss of star striker Neymar, Germany coach Joachm Loew warned that Brazil would be more dangerous without him.

"Brazil without Neymar are going to be much more difficult to beat than they would be with him," Loew said.

"I'd rather that he were playing for them on Tuesday.

"He's an exceptionally gifted player, but his teammates will rally around him now."

Loew said that he had experienced the same thing with Germany at the 2010 World Cup, when they lost their captain Michael Ballack to injury before the tournament.

Germany advanced to the semi-finals, where they lost to eventual champions Spain.

"We know ourselves what it's like to lose a really top player like that," said Loew.

"What happens then is that everyone raises their game and everyone takes over more responsibility.

"Brazil are not weaker without Neymar."

Like his coach, Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger said that Neymar's injury could galvanise the Selecao.

Schweinsteiger, captain Philipp Lahm and midfielder Sami Khedira all made comments regretting the absence of Neymar from the semi-final clash at Belo Horizonte's Mineirao Stadium on Wednesday morning (Singapore time).

"We're all sad that Neymar can't play, it's always better when the opponents have all their best players on the pitch," said Bayern Munich star Schweinsteiger this morning.

"It'll bring the (Brazil) team together and 
they'll want to win the title for him."

Lahm said the tournament is worse off without the Brazil star.

"Neymar is a sensational player who has shown his class at the World Cup," said Lahm.

"At a World Cup, you always want to measure yourself against the best. That is why I would prefer Brazil played with Neymar."

"It is bad news for us and for fans of football," Khedira told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

The Germans, though, are still wary of the Brazilians despite Neymar's absence.

"The Brazilians will put out a super team even without Neymar," warned Khedira.

CLASS OUTFIT

Brazil are also without suspended captain Thiago Silva, although they are appealing against his ban, but Schweinsteiger said, regardless of who plays, the Selecao are still a class outfit.

"They have two coaches in (Felipe) Scolari and (Carlos Alberto) Parreira who have won the title already, they have the home advantage and players with individual class," said Schweinsteiger, who will win his 107th cap if he starts against Brazil.

"Their coaches have a lot of experience of this kind of situation.

"It's an honour and a challenge to play against the hosts, but it would be better to play Brazil in the final.

"It doesn't matter how much experience you have, to play the hosts in this football-crazy country, I mean that in a positive sense, is something special."

Germany assistant coach Hansi Flick confirmed that with the exception of hamstring-injury victim Shkodran Mustafi, the entire Germany squad are fit and free of the mild-flu virus which blighted them last week. - Wire Services.

Hosts look to Pele and 1962 omen

Brazil have won a World Cup after losing their best player and they will be looking to the memory of 1962, when Pele was injured against Czechoslovakia, as an omen to get them over the loss of Neymar.

Veterans have also warned that the host nation could be fired up.

"If Germany think they are going to come up against a weak, discouraged team because we have lost Neymar, they would make an enormous mistake," said Ronaldo, who scored two goals the last time Brazil met Germany, in the final in 2002.

"They cannot underestimate the quality of Brazil - and Brazil have never been made up of only one player. In 1962, Pele got injured and could not play but Brazil still won the World Cup.

"Whoever steps into Neymar's shoes will just help and we are still the favourites." - Reuters.

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