Neymar Jr has been ruled out of the tournament for the Brazilian national team after the quarterfinal game versus Colombia. An ill-timed challenge by Zuñiga left the Barcelona ace with a broken vertebra, medical reports showed. Can Brazil still fulfill it's promise to win the World Cup on home soil?
One need only look to the past for inspiration. In the Chile World Cup 1962, twenty-one year old Pelé was injured during the second match against Czechoslovakia. This shocked the Brazilian squad and it seemed unlikely that they should win the tournament.
But another player, Garrincha, stepped up to the plate and delivered sciniillating performances that elevated Brazil to a new sphere of accomplishment in world football and cemented the country's place as one of the perennial favorites to win it all.
It wasn't only Garrincha that won the tournament for the Seleçao. With him was Botafogo teammate Didi and Palmeiras's striker Vava. Garrincha went on to be the player of the tournament, but it was interchanges with Didi and crucial goals scored by Vavá that made the difference for Brazil.
There has been a lot of criticism for Luiz Felipe Scolari's side. One remark often heard from analysts is that Brazil has only one main star: Neymar. In doing so, we forget the talent of midfield aces like Oscar and Willian and the exploits of Hulk and Fred up top. Is this fair?
In a way, Brazil will have to rely on these young players for inspiration and magic. They will need to show why Brazil is deemed to be the most fertile land for player development on the planet.
Brazil must work as a unit and will have to concentrate on its defense as well if they are to defeat a very talented German team in the semifinal. Germany's defense works as a back four of center backs without true wingers. This is where Dani Alves and Marcelo will be key. And with Thiago Silva suspended, it will fall upon David Luiz and whoever Scolari's decides to replace Thiago Silva to control the spaces where Müller, Klose and Kroos like to operate.
It is not an easy scenario for the Canarinha, but they will have the crowds behind them to push forward and win the title. They also have the weight of history behind them, not only as a nation but with inspiring performances of players that stepped up when superstars went down. Brazil will need a new Garrincha to win in 2014.