BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Brazil did it once without Pele, and just about everyone in the country is waiting and hoping to do it again without Neymar.
The Brazilians advanced to the semifinals of the World Cup last week, but they lost their best player in doing so. Neymar, the national team's star attraction with the same yellow No. 10 shirt that Pele made world famous, broke a vertebra after being kneed in the back and will miss the rest of the tournament.
That means Brazil will have to do without Neymar's quick moves and sharp shooting when the team plays Germany in the semifinals on Tuesday at Mineirao Stadium. And for the final, if they make it that far.
"It will be difficult, but we can win it without Neymar," said Matheus Christoff, a 22-year-old chemical engineering student from Belo Horizonte. "In 1962, we won without Pele, so we can win without Neymar."
Pele became a global star when he was only 17, scoring two goals in the 1958 final to give Brazil its first World Cup title. Four years later in Chile, he was injured in the opening round and was forced to sit and watch as his teammates won again.
But win they did, with Garrincha stepping up to carry the load.
This time around, there is no obvious goal-scoring replacement for Neymar, who cuts his hair in a fauxhawk and has become the face of the World Cup, at least on billboards and in TV commercials all over Brazil.
Or, instead of one person stepping up to provide the goals, maybe there is more than one.
"They have another 22 players," said Patricia Mendes, a 35-year-old consultant in Belo Horizonte. "If they wear the yellow jersey, they can score."
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