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
BRAZIL v GERMANY
(Wednesday, 4am, SingTel mio TV Ch 141 & StarHub TV Ch 223)
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.
"What can be more beautiful in a football dreamland than to play a World Cup semi-final against the hosts?" said Loew (left), after his team trained this morning. "It will be a huge game in Belo Horizonte."
Germany booked their semi-final place with a 1-0 last-eight win over France in Rio de Janeiro yesterday morning.
The Germans are bidding to reach their eighth World Cup final.
Brazil stand in the Germans' path to the Maracana on July 14, 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.
Flick believes that the hosts have enough top players to compensate for the loss of their talisman.
"It's always regrettable when a world-class player like him gets knocked out of the tournament," said Flick.
"Brazil have so many excellent players in their ranks, and they'll be able to compensate for his loss," Flick added of the five-time World Cup champions, who play the three-time winners for only the second time at the World Cup.
Brazil beat Germany 2-0 in the 2002 final.
Neymar's exit from the World Cup left Brazilians shocked and angered, darkening the mood after their win over Colombia had sparked nationwide celebrations.
The 22-year-old, who was Brazil's most dynamic creator and scored four goals in his team's five matches, received sympathy from former Germany midfielder Mehmet Scholl, now a television pundit.
"It makes me really angry," Scholl said. "If the referees aren't capable of stopping brutal fouls like that, then a great player like Neymar ends up getting carried off the pitch. It's like a battle of gladiators."
The Germans regard Wednesday's semi-final as a chance to avenge their 2002 World Cup final defeat by Brazil, for whom Ronaldo scored both goals in a 2-0 victory in Yokohama.
"I have reminded the team that we would like to correct the result," quipped German FA (DFB) president Wolfgang Niersbach.
Striker Miroslav Klose, who played in the 2002 final and was the tournament's top scorer, said Germany have a good chance to lift the title.
"I think we have a great chance to finally get the trophy," said Klose.
"But we can't take the second step before we take the first."
The squad went through their paces this morning and, only centre back Per Mertesacker missed out with mild flu symptoms, a virus which affected most of the squad during the week.
Outstanding performances against the French by goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and Man-of-the-Match Mats Hummels, who scored the 13th-minute winner, sent the Germans into their 13th World Cup semi-final out of a possible 20.
Some 26.25 million supporters watched the win back home in Germany, and fans packed into the public viewing area in front of Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate to cheer the victory on the other side of the world.
The Germans are desperate to avoid a defeat in Belo Horizonte, which would consign them to a third consecutive third-place play-off at the World Cup.
"I really do not need that, that's something I want to rule out," joked captain Philipp Lahm, who was on losing teams in semi-finals at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
"We definitely want more, that wasn't our last appearance in Rio."
- Wire Services.
What can be more beautiful in a football dreamland than to play a World Cup semi-final against the hosts? It will be a huge game in Belo Horizonte.
- Germany coach Joachim Loew, on his side’s upcoming clash with Brazil