BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Germany coach Joachim Loew is worried about Brazil’s “brutal” tackling in recent games, and appealed to the referee of their World Cup semifinal to be on the lookout for such tactics.
Germany and Brazil play Tuesday in Belo Horizonte, with Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez in charge of the match.
Loew was one of many observers who took note of the bruising quarterfinal between Brazil and Colombia, and said that tackling by both sides was often “brutal and almost over the limit.”
“My hope, or what I expect, is that the referee Rodriguez keeps an eye on these things,” Loew said. “In Europe there would not be 22 players on the pitch at the end. There were many hard fouls from behind, from the side. You have to see that this brutal and robust physical side is stopped because then you won’t have a Neymar, Messi … but other players who destroy the game.”
Neymar, Brazil’s biggest star, fractured a vertebra late in that game after taking a knee in the back, an injury that ruled him out of the rest of the World Cup.
Loew began the news conference by once again expressing regret that Neymar will miss the match. Brazil captain and defender Thiago Silva is also out because of a suspension.
“A top player missing means other layers will take responsibility and I am sure they will play for Neymar and for Thiago,” Loew said. “No one should think that Neymar’s absence or Thiago Silva’s is a disadvantage, with Dante playing you can’t expect him to play badly, especially against Germany.”
Center back Dante, who is expected to replace Silva, plays for Bayern Munich and is a teammate of many Germany players.
Loew said Brazil was sure to take commitment, passion and emotion and the “backing of 200 million” into the semifinal, but that Germany should not adjust to its opponent and will try to play its own game.
“We are confident and if we manage to play to our abilities, our hopes of reaching the final are not all that bad,” Loew said.
Loew said that all 22 players remaining in his squad are fit and ready to play. Defender Shkodran Mustafi is out with a leg muscle injury.
Loew said Brazil was the favorite despite the absence of top stars.
“Such semifinals are a special occasion, the fight of the two continents, two European teams against two South American teams,” he said.
In the other semifinal on Wednesday, Argentina plays the Netherlands in Sao Paulo.
Germany, a three-time champion, is playing in its fourth straight semifinal and hoping to reach its first final since 2002, when it lost to Brazil in the only previous World Cup match the two nations have played.