The German media has bemoaned the loss of one of the big stars of the 2014 World Cup, following Neymar's injury in the final minutes of the quarterfinal between Brazil and Colombia.
On Tuesday, Germany and Brazil will play the first semifinal of the 2014 World Cup. It will be only the second meeting between the two nations at the highest international level, with the Selecao winning the first clash 2-0 in the 2002 World Cup final.
Yet, hosts Brazil will not be able to field their best side against Die Nationalmannschaft. Captain Thiago Silva misses the match after his second booking of the tournament, and Neymar suffered a broken vertebra following a late collision with Colombia's Juan Camilo Zuniga.
"The Neymar drama," read a headline on German weekly Die Zeit's website. "Neymar's loss is similar to Germany losing [Manuel] Neuer, [Phillipp] Lahm, [Mats] Hummels, [Jerome] Boateng, [Benedikt] Howedes, [Bastian] Schweinsteiger, [Sami] Khedira, [Toni] Kroos, [Mesut] Ozil, [Thomas] Muller, and [Miroslav) Klose," the paper commented.
"Neymar's injury is even more tragic because this lad is not one of the so-called Uberstars, who might be on every advertising pillars, but whose best World Cup performances are at the beach. This World Cup could indeed have been Neymar's World Cup."
Neymar out of the World Cup
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But Die Zeit warned that Neymar's loss has also taken most of the pressure away from Brazil. They might not have the best team in footballing terms, "but they have heart and passion for 10 teams. This could be the message for the semifinal. We might not play nice, but will have even more passion now."
Der Spiegel headlined "Brazil's nightmare," and said that Brazil "will not be able to replace Neymar" and added: "Neymar's injury is the biggest interference factor at this World Cup so far. Scolari and his team now have four days to think about a plan how to cope with it. At least it can't get any worse with the exception of missing the World Cup title, of course."
German tactical analyst Tobias Escher believes that the absence of Neymar and Thiago Silva, the two Brazilian "focus players," will change Brazil's match plan. "Without Neymar, Brazil need a totally new attacking plan, and will also not be able to play that extreme pressing without Silva protection," Escher wrote in his column for Die Welt.
"Brazil's expensive victory: Silva suspended, Neymar injured," the weekly Sport Bild headlined, and Bild ran a story on the world bemoaning the Barcelona player's injury, in which the newspaper hit out at the Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo for "not protecting Neymar."
This sentiment was echoed by former Germany international Mehmet Scholl, who currently works as a pundit at the World Cup for the German TV network ARD. "When referees are no longer capable of stopping brutal fouls than a player like a Neymar gets stretchered off the pitch," Scholl said. "It's like gladiators fighting"
"Brazil shocked," summarised Sueddeutsche Zeitung, and heard a "sudden silence in a loud night."