Brazil stoked controversy ahead of the World Cup semi-finals by urging Fifa to scrap the suspension ruling captain Thiago Silva out of the host nation’s clash with Germany.
The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said it wanted Fifa to rescind the yellow card awarded against Silva during Friday’s bruising quarter-final win over Colombia.
The card against Silva was “unjustly shown” and the defender should therefore be allowed to face the Germans in Belo Horizonte, the CBF said.
The Brazilian association also demanded Fifa launched an investigation into the “violent challenge” by Colombia’s Juan Zuniga that forced star striker Neymar out of the tournament.
Zuniga has apologised for the tackle but insisted there was no intention to injure the opponent.
Neymar cried “I can’t feel my legs” after Zuniga’s knee-in-the-back challenge, Brazil’s coach Luiz Felipe Scolari told Spanish sports daily Marca.
Scolari said the whole team panicked.
Left back Marcelo was first to reach the striker, who suffered a fractured vertebrae.
Marcelo knelt next to Neymar and asked how he felt, according to Scolari. “He replied: ‘I can’t feel my legs’,” added the coach.
Marcelo shouted for the team doctor, but doctors are not allowed onto the pitch.
“It was a big shock, the image of Neymar being stretchered off to the helicopter, in difficulty, crying,” Scolari said.
That incident continued to appear on Sunday’s sports news bulletins on local television but Brazil’s former World Cup winning captain Carlos Alberto Torres hoped it might end up being a good omen for the squad.
The 1970 skipper recalled how Amarildo and Garrincha had stepped up to fill the void left by an injury to Pele in 1962 and helped steer Brazil to the title.
“In the 1962 World Cup, we lost Pele,” he told Sportv. “Maybe someone will wake up and become the Garrincha of 1962.”
Doctors also confirmed Angel Di Maria will miss the semi-final against the Netherlands because of a thigh problem but did not rule the winger out of being fit for the final should Argentina prevail in Sao Paulo on Wednesday.
“Angel has a Grade 1 injury. Of course, he won’t play in Argentina’s next game. After that, we’ll evaluate the situation day-by-day,” team doctor Daniel Martinez said.
Germany were sure Neymar’s absence would not weaken the challenge facing them in Belo Horizonte, with Bastian Schweinsteiger expecting Brazil to draw strength from the adversity suffered by their posterboy.
“It’ll bring the (Brazil) team together and they’ll want to win the title for him,” Schweinsteiger said.
Schweinsteiger’s coach Joachim Loew, however, was more concerned about the methods Brazil might use in the mouth-watering last four clash, wary of a repeat of the tough tackling that marked their win over Colombia.
“There’s precious little left of that traditional Brazilian style of soccer, that artistic style of playing that we all know so well,” Loew said at his team’s base camp on the Atlantic coast.
“For sure, Brazil still have good technical players. But they’re playing more robustly than any other team here and they have been trying to break up their opponent’s attack that way.”
Brazil have made no apology for the 31 fouls they committed against Colombia and Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul was another quarter-final victor unrepentant for his actions.
Krul replaced first-choice keeper Jasper Cillessen specifically for the quarter-final shootout against Costa Rica, staring down his opponents and yelling at them as they prepared to shoot.
The gamesmanship resulted in him saving Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana’s spot-kicks to set up the last four clash with Argentina.
“I didn’t shout anything nasty at them. I just told them that I knew where they were going. I’m trying obviously to get in their heads and it worked,” he said.
Agence France-Presse, Reuters