(AFP) – Joachim Loew expects his Germany side to face a battle against tough-tackling Brazil when football’s titans clash in Tuesday’s World Cup semi-final with the host nation desperate to win the title for injured superstar Neymar.
Brazil‘s quest to win a sixth title on the home soil, meanwhile, has been dealt a huge blow as they will not only be missing top scorer Neymar, but also suspended captain Thiago Silva after his appeal against the booking he received in the quarter-final win over Colombia was rejected on Monday.
Neymar suffered a fractured vertebrae towards the end of his side’s bruising 2-1 win over the Colombians on Friday.
Brazil paid the price for their rough treatment handed out to James Rodriguez as Colombia met fire-with-fire before Juan Zuniga’s challenge on Neymar left the Selecao star in hospital.
The hosts committed a tournament high 31 fouls against their fellow South Americans and Loew is hoping Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez, who missed Luis Suarez’s bite on Giorgio Chiellini early in the competition, doesn’t allow the game to get out of hand.
“I hope the referee Rodriguez will clamp down, because I have seen in the last few matches that Brazil‘s physical energy is going beyond of what we see in Europe,” said Loew.
“If the games had been played in Europe, none of the 22 players would have finished the matches.”
Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari admitted his side’s passage to the last four hadn’t been in the image of his country’s once famed ‘Jogo Bonito’ style, but insisted winning on home soil was the most important thing.
“We are doing everything step-by-step, not always in the most beautiful way but we are getting closer to playing the final at home and so everything is as scheduled.”
And Scolari has urged his squad to use Neymar’s absence as an extra motivating factor.
“The way Neymar spoke to the players made them understand that he had done his share and now we need to do our share.
“Myself, the other players, all the Brazilian people. This match is very important, it could take us to the final.
“We are playing for our country, it is everything we imagined and dreamed of, and also for Neymar.”
Willian is one of the prime candidates to replace Neymar and the Chelsea midfielder insists Brazil still have the quality to overcome the Germans.
“We know the quality that we have. We are all very sad at losing him but we are now even stronger after what happened and we can continue to pursue our dream.”
– ‘An honour and a challenge’ –
Remarkably for two World Cup powerhouses with 24 semi-final appearances between them, this will be just their second meeting in the competition after the 2002 final.
“It’s an honour and a challenge to play against the hosts, but it have would be better to play Brazil in the final,” said German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger.
“It doesn’t matter how much experience you have, to play the hosts in this football-crazy country is something special.”
With Silva suspended, Germany are expected to meet a familiar face in centre-back Dante, which could help both sides, according to his Bayern Munich team-mate Schweinsteiger.
“I hope he starts, we know him very well and know his strengths and weaknesses, but he also knows how we play,” said Schweinsteiger.
Germany are desperate to end their 24-year wait for a fourth World Cup title, while Loew’s side are determined to avoid a defeat which would mean the third-place play-off — for the third consecutive time.
“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 Cup finals.