(Reuters) - Brazil will grind to a halt when the hosts, missing injured talisman Neymar and suspended captain Thiago Silva, take on European heavyweights Germany in their World Cup semi-final in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday.
Neymar fractured a vertebra in the quarter-final against Colombia is out for the rest of the tournament, while center back Silva picked up a needless booking that means his World Cup will also be over unless Brazil can progress to Sunday’s final against Argentina or the Netherlands who meet on Wednesday.
For Brazil, failure to reach the showpiece match at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium would be a national catastrophe. The South Americans beat Germany to win the 2002 final.
The Germans, who dispatched France in the last eight, have shown their usual ruthless efficiency in reaching the semi-finals for the fourth consecutive World Cup but are without a triumph since 1990 and a major title since winning Euro ‘96.
Writing by Iain Rogers, editing by Nigel Hunt