The loss of Brazil forward Neymar to injury is a setback for the entire World Cup tournament, Germany assistant coach Hansi Flick said on Saturday.
Brazil will face Germany in the semi-finals on Tuesday and Flick believes the hosts have enough top players to compensate for the loss of their talisman. "It's always regrettable when a world-class player like that gets knocked out of the tournament," Flick said on the fringes of Germany's training session in Santo Andre.
"He was a great enrichment," said Flick when asked by a small group of reporters about Neymar, whose tournament came to an abrupt end in Brazil's 2-1 semi-final win over Colombia when he suffered a fractured vertebra in the closing stages. "Brazil have so many excellent players in their ranks and they'll be able to compensate for his loss," Flick said of the five-times World Cup winners, who play the three-times winners for only the second time at the World Cup. Brazil beat Germany 2-0 in the 2002 final.
Flick said Germany will have a tough enough assignment as it is against Brazil even with the loss of Neymar and suspended captain Thiago Silva. Neymar's exit from the World Cup left Brazilians shocked and angered, darkening the mood after their win over Colombia had sparked nationwide celebrations. Neymar, 22, was Brazil's most dynamic creator and scored four goals in his team's five matches.
He received sympathy from former Germany midfielder Mehmet Scholl who now works as a television pundit. "It makes me really angry," Scholl said. "If the referees aren't capable of stopping brutal fouls like that, then a great player like Neymar ends up getting carried off the pitch. It's like a battle of gladiators."
Several Germany players also expressed their support. "Neymar, I am unhappy. Get well soon," midfielder Mesut Ozil said on Twitter.
Neymar, i am unhappy. get well soon.
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) July 5, 2014
"Sad for @NeymarJr hope you get better soon," wrote Lukas Podolski.
— Lukas-Podolski.com (@Podolski10) July 5, 2014