Brazil overcame one of their toughest challenges yet on Friday night as the hosts saw off a spirited Colombia side to make the World Cup semi-finals. But the very physical battle left its mark, as Neymar departed the stadium in Fortaleza on a stretcher, and will miss the rest of the tournament with a fractured vertebrae. It’s a big loss for Brazil who now rely on a trio of Jo, Fred, and Hulk up top.
That’s a man who managed just six goals in 36 Premier League games for Man City and Everton, a local competition winner and a striker who has never scored a competitive international goal.
It doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of the German team who await them in Tuesday’s semi-final.
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Punters haven’t been shy in nailing their colours to the mast, and a lot like the Germans and their sunbeds, the cash is down good and early. Brazil opened up as slight favourites for the semi-final, however with Neymar and captain Thiago Silva (suspended) missing for the hosts, Germany’s price has been slashed. Germany are now 17/10 favourites to win in 90 minutes with Brazil at 9/5. Both teams are 10/11 to qualify for the final.
But there’s still value to be had in Germany, and particularly their defence, when you consider what an attacking loss Neymar is for the hosts.
- Alongside Neymar, Hulk, Fred and Oscar have played in the attacking roles for Brazil in this World Cup and none of them come close to matching the poster-boy’s stats. Combined they have just two goals to Neymar’s four, and have attempted far fewer shots on goal.
- Oscar, Fred and Hulk have created 14 chances combined, while Neymar has managed to create 13 on his own during this tournament, leaving a massive attacking void in this Brazilian side ahead of the semi-final.
- Bar Oscar, Neymar has also been one of the most attack minded players with 83 successful forward passes, dwarfing Fred’s 43 and Hulk’s measly 33.
The betting is tight enough but with Neymar out, there is some value to be had in the Germans. Joachim Loew’s side have conceded just three goals in this tournament (no side has conceded less) and Manuel Neuer, Philip Lahm and Mats Hummels have excelled at the back. The 9/5 for them to keep a clean sheet in 90 minutes, and the 16/5 for Germany to win in 90 minutes without conceding both look like decent punts, especially when you consider Brazil are without their talismanic striker.