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World Cup

Brazilian bummer: Germany will miss facing Neymar

With Neymar out of Brazil's World Cup semifinal against Germany, Joachim Löw's side has one less concern going into the match. But no one on the team is happy to see one of the tournament's best sidelined.

Following their quarterfinal win against France on Friday, the German national team flew back to their base camp in Santo Andre and was in the air for Brazil's own quarterfinal tie with Colombia.

It didn't take long for the German team to get up to speed once they landed, however: Brazil were through to the semifinal, but Neymar was out.

The tournament-ending injury to one of the World Cup's stars means Germany gain a slight edge over their opponents for Tuesday's match in Belo Horizonte, but that's not how the German players pictured it would be if they face Brazil in the World Cup.

"We are all very sad that Neymar can't play," said German vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger at a press conference on Sunday. "It's always better when the big players are on the pitch."

But, as assistant coach Hansi Flick cautioned in the press conference, such an event can provide a rallying point for a team like Brazil. In any case, Brazil will provide more than an adequate challenge for the Germans – a challenge Schweinsteiger relishes.

Fußball WM 2014 Deutschland Frankreich Viertelfinale

Fans around the globe sympathized with Neymar

"This game carries a lot of significance," Schweinsteiger said. "Playing against the host nation is a huge honor and a challenge. You soak up these kind of games. It makes playing football even more fun."

Long-awaited match

It's a game that many fans of both teams had been eyeing with anticipation ever since the schedule for the World Cup was released. And while Brazil cannot be considered underdogs by any stretch of the imagination, there are a few advantages Germany have heading into the match.

The first is a full roster. Flick told reporters at Sunday's press conference that all 22 available players were healthy and fit for the game against Brazil. Shkodran Mustafi had been ruled out anyway due to injury, but the concerns about players fighting flu symptoms appear to be put to bed. Per Mertesacker was the latest to fall ill and missed training Saturday, but is on the mend and available to play.

In addition to Neymar, Brazil will be without their captain, Thiago Silva, who is suspended after seeing his second yellow card of the tournament against Colombia. While Brazil would clearly prefer to have both players available, Flick thinks Brazil will take their absences in stride.

"Despite these losses, we expect that the Brazilians will be able to compensate and rise to the occasion," Flick said.

Super subs

Of perhaps more relevance to the German team is the consistency within the ranks that has prevailed since their last World Cup semifinal in 2010 – a loss to eventual champions, Spain, in Durban, South Africa.

Fußball WM 2014 Brasilien Kolumbien Viertelfinale

Dante (third from left) may have a shot at starting against Germany

Germany's coaching staff and a good portion of the roster remains unchanged since then, while Brazil are on their third coach since 2010 and have several World Cup debutantes on the squad.

"We're a step further than we were in 2010," Schweinsteiger said, adding that the team's deep bench has played a role in their success so far. "In past years we've had a good bench, but now you can feel a more positive team spirit. No one is mad to be on the bench, but happy to come in and do their part."

One sub who may get a chance for Brazil is Schweinsteiger's club teammate at Bayern Munich, Dante. The defender has a good chance of coming on for the suspended Thiago Silva.

"I'd be happy for him, he's earned it," said Schweinsteiger, who is just one of several German players who play with Dante at Bayern. "We know his strengths and weaknesses, and he knows ours. Except for Thomas Müller – nobody knows what he's going to do."

Lahm in the back, Özil on the bench?

With a full roster and a few days to ponder, the team Joachim Löw sends onto the pitch on Tuesday will reflect lots of careful decision making on behalf of the German coaching staff. The move to put captain Philipp Lahm back on the right side of the defense after a spell as a holding defender appears to be permanent now, as Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira seem fit to each play a full match at midfield, rather than sharing the job as they did during the group stage.

Brasilien Kolumbien WM 2014 Bank Spieler

Löw has seen improvement, but critics see a trip to the bench for Özil

Mesut Özil's spot in the starting lineup is less certain. His play has been lackluster at times so far during the tournament, and there is plenty of speculation that Andre Schürrle or Mario Götze might be the better option for creating scoring opportunities in Tuesday's match. Flick defended Özil's World Cup performance so far, saying his role at this tournament was a little different than what it had been in the past and that the coaches were happy with his performance so far.

The 11 men Löw sends out against Brazil on Tuesday will certainly be bracing for a physical match. Flick said the Brazilian's physical play is often on the "border of what's allowed."

"You always think of the Brazilians as the magicians," said Schweinsteiger, referring to Brazil's enchanting play of years gone by, "but the team has changed and they play differently than teams of the past. Physicality is a part of it now, and we have to be ready - the refs, too."

Germany take on Brazil in the semifinal of the World Cup on Tuesday in Belo Horizonte at 20:00 UTC. You can follow the match live on Twitter via @dw_sports.

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