What's buzzing:

Without Neymar, attack not the focus for Brazil

AP - Sports
Without Neymar, attack not the focus for Brazil
.

View gallery

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) -- With Neymar out and Brazil's forwards ineffective throughout the World Cup, it will be up to the team's defenders and midfielders to keep Brazil in contention at the World Cup.

Brazil is having to turn the focus away from its once-mighty attack ahead of the semifinal against Germany on Tuesday, hoping the rest of the team will be able to come through and carry the hosts into the final.

Brazil scored 10 goals in its first five matches, with half of them coming from defenders and midfielders. Neymar scored four, with center forward Fred only finding the net once. Defenders scored the team's last three goals.

Without any reliable options for the attack, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is almost certain to replace striker Neymar with a midfielder.

Scolari recently even considered removing Fred from the lineup and adding a third central defender, going back to the 3-5-2 formation that he used when he led Brazil to its fifth world title in 2002.

''We are a team, and a team is not made up only of strikers,'' Scolari said. ''We have a group. When this group wins, everybody wins, regardless of who scores the goals.''

Chelsea midfielder Willian is the most likely replacement for Neymar, but in the team's final practice on Monday, Scolari hinted that he may even use three defensive midfielders, with Luiz Gustavo returning to the team after a yellow card suspension.

''We have good players for the sector where Neymar played,'' Scolari said. ''We have options. I'm confident, I'm not worried.''

In addition to the Barcelona star, the coach picked four other strikers for the World Cup: Fred, Bernard, Jo and Hulk.

Fred was supposed to supply the goals, but the Fluminense player struggled from the beginning and has been loudly criticized by fans and local media. His lone goal came in the 4-1 win over Cameroon in the team's final group-stage match.

''Fred has been playing for the team,'' Scolari said. ''We can keep winning, even if he doesn't score. Fred is not the only one in charge of scoring. Everyone has that responsibility.''

Brazil hasn't had a star striker since Ronaldo stopped playing after the 2006 World Cup. Luis Fabiano was the team's starter in the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

In addition to missing Neymar, Scolari also won't be able to count on captain and central defender Thiago Silva because of a yellow card suspension. Dante, who plays in Germany for Bayern Munich, is almost certain to replace him.

Silva scored one of Brazil's goals in the 2-1 win over Colombia in the quarterfinals on Friday. Fellow defender David Luiz scored the other. Luiz also had scored the team's lone goal in the second round against Chile.

The other goal-scorers for Brazil at its home World Cup were Oscar and Fernandinho, both finding the net in the group stage.

Neymar was ruled out of the World Cup after being kneed in the back and fracturing a vertebra late in the match against Colombia.

''The Brazilian national team is not only about Neymar,'' Silva said. ''It's in times like this that the whole group has to show its strength.''

---

Follow Tales Azzoni at https://www.twitter.com/tazzoni

View Comments (14)
  • Doyle doing well in Denver, hopes for Ireland call

    Doyle doing well in Denver, hopes for Ireland call

    Kevin Doyle plans to get one over on compatriot Robbie Keane when the Irish strikers line up against each other in Major League Soccer on Saturday and hopes his move to the United States will boost his chances of an Ireland call-up. Doyle, who … More »

    Reuters - 31 minutes ago
  • New Zealand launch appeal against Olympics expulsion

    New Zealand Football have lodged an appeal with the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) over the controversial expulsion of their team from the 2016 Rio Olympics qualifying tournament for fielding an ineligible player. New Zealand's under-23 side … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 14 minutes ago
  • Advisory-English Premier League preview package

    July 31 (Reuters) - Reuters will publish a preview package at 0200 GMT on Saturday looking ahead to the English Premier League season that kicks off on Saturday Aug. 8. The package will consist of an overall preview, individual articles on champions … More »

    Reuters - 5 hours ago
  • Drogba gets superstar treatment, dons No. 11, at first Montreal Impact event

    The former Chelsea striker was met with chants and long applause at a news conference attended by media and hundreds of the Major League Soccer club's most loyal fans at Saputo Stadium on Thursday night. "I wasn't a superstar before I joined big … More »

    The Canadian Press - 7 hours ago
  • Garber: MLS attendance at record levels

    Garber: MLS attendance at record levels

    Kaka and David Villa are raising the profile of Major League Soccer. Clint Dempsey and the U.S. national teams have done their part, too. Buoyed by international soccer icons and capitalizing on recent World Cup success by the American men's and … More »

    AP - Sports - 7 hours ago