TERESOPOLIS: The two leading contenders to replace Neymar in Brazil’s World Cup semi-final line-up against Germany insisted on Sunday they can still win the competition in the absence of their star player.
“Neymar sets the standard for us. He is capable of deciding any game, so playing without him will be difficult,” said Willian, the Chelsea midfielder.
“We know the quality that we have. We are all very sad at losing him but we are now even stronger after what happened and we can continue to pursue our dream.”
Neymar’s tournament ended in tears on Friday when he suffered a fractured vertebrae in his back after a crunching challenge from Juan Zuniga in the 2-1 quarter-final win against Colombia.
Willian, who has made all three of his appearances so far at this World Cup from the bench, picked up a knock in training on Saturday following a clash with Hernanes but said that it will not prevent him from being ready to come into the side against Germany.
However, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari could also opt to hand a first start in the competition to the diminutive winger Bernard, of Shakhtar Donetsk.
“We were all very sad at the situation and also because Neymar was very sad. Of course the whole group has felt his loss,” said the 21-year-old.
“He is a big loss not just as a player but also as a person. He is always smiling and saying positive things.
“But we have to be calm and overcome it. We know that we have other players who will be able to replace him.”