Without Neymar, attack not the focus for Brazil

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 7, 2014 at 11:20 am •  Published: July 7, 2014
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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.

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