PORTO SEGURO, Brazil (AP) — Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger thinks Brazil has crossed the line with some of its hard tackling ahead of the World Cup semifinals and is urging referees to keep a closer eye on the host team.
“I am all for a healthy hardness but some of Brazil’s fouls were over the limit,” Schweinsteiger said. “Brazilians are not only football magicians, hard tackling is part of their game – we have to be careful and so does the referee.”
Brazil committed 31 fouls in its quarterfinal win over Colombia, which had 23. But it was one particular Colombian foul, by Juan Zuniga, which overshadowed the others because it took out Neymar with a fractured vertebra and knocked the Brazilian attacking talisman out of the tournament.
“Brazil is an outstanding team that plays at the limit of the allowed and will go over the limit if necessary,” Germany assistant coach Hansi Flick told reporters on Sunday. He said the absence of the injured star could help galvanize the Brazil squad for Tuesday’s match in Belo Horizonte.
“It’s definitely a loss for Brazil, Neymar has lived up to expectations, but his absence can unite the team more and we expect a very strong opponent,” Flick said.
Schweinsteiger agreed, saying “We are all very sad that Neymar is not playing,” but adding that Brazil’s team will bind even more closely “and will try to win the title for Neymar.”
The Bayern Munich midfielder thinks Brazil’s coaching staff of chief Luiz Felipe Scolari and his assistant Carlos Alberto Parreira is its biggest strength.
“They are two coaches with a lot of experience who have both won the World Cup,” he said. “They are clever coaches and you need intelligent coaches to win the title.”
Scolari’s job got a lot harder when Neymar was ruled out and captain Thiago Silva was suspended for a match after picking up picking up a second yellow card in the tournament.
Flick said that all 22 remaining Germany players are fit and ready to play. Backup defender Shkodran Mustafi is out of the tournament with a torn leg muscle.