July 7, 2014 at 10:21 pm

Monday's World Cup roundup: Brazilians rally around loss of Neymar

Brazil's Daniel Alves, left, stretches with David Luiz during a practice session at the Granja Comary training center, in Teresopolis, Brazil. (Leo Correa / Associated Press)

Belo Horizonte, Brazil — Neymar helped Brazil get this far at the World Cup. Now it’s up to the rest of the team to win for its injured star, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said Monday.

Neymar will miss today’s semifinal against Germany because of a fractured bone in his back, an injury that ruled him out of the World Cup and dealt a huge blow to the nation’s hopes for a title at home.

“Now we have to do our part,” Scolari said Monday. “We will be playing not only for ourselves, for our country, for our dreams, but each one of us will be playing a little for Neymar because of everything that he has done for us.”

Scolari said the team is over the shock of losing the player and has changed the focus to trying to get ready for the match against Germany. He said Neymar, who scored four goals in the group stage, had already done enough for the national team.

“When Neymar had to go, he left a lot of him with us and he took a lot of us with him,” Scolari said. “We are already done with this process of being sad.

“When Neymar himself began talking to the other players after what happened, they understood that he has done his part already.”

Scolari called Neymar “one of our references” and “one of the best in the world,” but he reminded that Brazil has “22 other players who know they are special.”

“We will miss Neymar’s competiveness, his happiness,” Scolari said. “But we have a group of quality players and they can overcome the challenges and help the team advance.”

Germany coach Joachim Loew said he expects Brazil to be extra motivated because of Neymar’s absence.

“I’m certain all the other players will be fighting for him, fighting for their nation,” Loew said.

Brazil captain Thiago Silva, who is suspended for the game, said the group will be playing with Neymar on their minds.

“Now it’s time for the other 22 players to take on the responsibility of playing well and getting the win, especially for him, who wanted to be here now but unfortunately was taken out of a World Cup because of a what I think was a cowardly challenge,” he said.

Silva said the foul that took Neymar out of the World Cup, a knee in the back by Colombia’s Juan Camilo Zuniga late in the quarterfinal match against Colombia, was “not a normal move.”

“Being a defender I know how to defend and that type of defending doesn’t exist,” he said. “It’s impossible to get your knee through someone to get to the ball on the other side. Unless you want to hit the other player. That’s not a normal match situation.”

FIFA officials said Tuesday said they will not take action against Zuniga.

Loew wary of tactics

Loew is worried about Brazil’s “brutal” tackling in recent games, and appealed to the referee of their semifinal to be on the lookout for such tactics.

Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez will be in charge of the match.

Loew was one of many observers who took note of the bruising quarterfinal between Brazil and Colombia, and said that tackling by both sides was often “brutal and almost over the limit.”

“My hope, or what I expect, is that the referee Rodriguez keeps an eye on these things,” Loew said. “In Europe there would not be 22 players on the pitch at the end. There were many hard fouls from behind, from the side.

“You have to see that this brutal and robust physical side is stopped because then you won’t have a Neymar, Messi … but other players who destroy the game.”

Neymar, Brazil’s biggest star, fractured a vertebra late in that game after taking a knee in the back, an injury that ruled him out of the rest of the World Cup.

Loew began the news conference by once again expressing regret that Neymar will miss the match.

“A top player missing means other layers will take responsibility and I am sure they will play for Neymar and for Thiago,” Loew said. “No one should think that Neymar’s absence or Thiago Silva’s is a disadvantage, with Dante playing you can’t expect him to play badly, especially against Germany.”

Center back Dante, who is expected to replace Silva, plays for Bayern Munich and is a teammate of many Germany players.

Loew said Brazil was sure to take commitment, passion and emotion and the “backing of 200 million” into the semifinal, but that Germany should not adjust to its opponent and will try to play its own game.

“We are confident and if we manage to play to our abilities, our hopes of reaching the final are not all that bad,” Loew said.

Loew said all 22 players remaining in his squad are fit and ready. Defender Shkodran Mustafi is out with a leg injury.

Loew said Brazil was the favorite despite the absence of top stars.

“Such semifinals are a special occasion, the fight of the two continents, two European teams against two South American teams,” he said.

In the other semifinal on Wednesday, Argentina plays the Netherlands in Sao Paulo.

Germany, a three-time champion, is playing in its fourth straight semifinal and hoping to reach its first final since 2002, when it lost to Brazil in the only previous World Cup match the two nations have played.

Schedule

All games on ESPN, CBC and Univision unless noted

SEMIFINALS

Tuesday’s game

Brazil vs. Germany, 4 p.m.

Wednesday’s game

Argentina vs. Netherlands, 4 p.m.

THIRD PLACE

Saturday’s game

4 p.m.

CHAMPIONSHIP

Sunday’s game

3 p.m. ABC