Yes, Brazil poster boy Neymar will miss today's Brazil vs. Germany World Cup semifinal. (Team captain Thiago Silva won't make it either, thanks to a yellow card.) And yes, manager Luiz Felipe Scolari's doomsday speak leading up to the match – calling the 22-year-old star "the one player we did not want to lose" and his absence a "catastrophe" – is akin to prematurely waving a white flag.
But Seleção fans, not all is lost without the star Barcelona forward; Brazil still has a stacked squad with players who can deliver Neymar-level hype. Look to these three to step up their game and – possibly – take the spotlight he abandoned:
He's the most obvious candidate for World Cup glory after Neymar — the Chelsea-bred midfielder is his expected replacement. Calculated in style (as opposed to Neymar's flamboyance), Oscar has had an understated influence on the team's performance so far, covering 31 miles in five matches, more than any other Brazil player. They'll be counting on him to create chances.
The 29-year-old midfielder has played a physical World Cup, piling on four fouls in just the first half of the match against Colombia, racking up six against Chile –two more than the number of passes he managed to complete – and indirectly contributing to Neymar's injury by repeatedly slamming into James Rodríguez, and feeding Colombia's hunger for payback. The Manchester City star will look to break Germany's attack at any cost, even if the result is hard to watch.
On the other end of the spectrum is David Luiz, the defender photographed comforting Rodríguez after the controversial Colombia match, and the man stepping in as captain for the suspended Silva. The 27-year-old is arguably the team's second biggest star thanks to his likability and was named by FIFA as the best player in the first round of matches at the tournament. He's not flashy, but if there's a time for David Luiz-mania to take hold, it'll be at this semifinal.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.