Belo Horizonte (Brazil): Luiz Felipe Scolari has insisted Brazil is physically and mentally prepared to overcome Germany in the World Cup semi-final despite the absence of injured star striker Neymar.
The 22-year-old was ruled out for the rest of the tournament after suffering a fractured vertebra in Brazil’s 2-1 victory over Colombia in Fortaleza Friday, reports Xinhua.
But Scolari said his squad has been psychologically conditioned to cope without its star forward at Belo Horizonte’s Mineirao stadium Tuesday.
“We have worked on motivating the players and getting them to overcome difficulties since the beginning of the tournament,” Scolari told reporters Monday.
“Neymar has been one of our references and is one of the best players in the world. We are going to miss the way he plays, his exuberance. But we have 22 other players in our squad. It means that any of our reserves that come in are going to be special, because they are the ones that can make a difference. That is the message we are passing to the players,” Scolari said.
Neymar’s absence is expected to provide an opportunity for Willian or Bernard in Brazil’s starting line-up.
Bayern Munich defender Dante is also tipped to start in place of suspended captain Thiago Silva, while Luiz Gustavo will return to midfield after serving a one-match ban.
Scolari admitted his players felt they needed to win for the Barcelona forward.
“We have to accept that he is gone and do our part because Neymar has already done his,” Scolari said.
We are playing not only for us, but for our country and everything that we have dreamed about, and for Neymar, for everything that he has done for us,” he added.
Scolari also revealed that he had asked Dante to provide information about his Bayern Munich team mates ahead of the match.
“Dante has spoken to the group about the way certain players play. Every small detail will be important,” Scolari added.