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Germany concerned about roughness of Brazil

By Agencies - Jul 07,2014 - Last updated at Jul 07,2014

PORTO SEGURO, Brazil — 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 quarter-final 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 has committed 96 fouls in five games, significantly more than Germany’s 57. Brazil players have received 10 yellow cards, six more than German players.

“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 galvanise 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.” He added 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 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.

 Here are four key battles in Tuesday’s World Cup semifinal between Brazil and Germany in Belo Horizonte’s Mineirao Stadium.

Brazil defender Dante vs. Germany striker Miroslav Klose: This could be the most decisive battle in the game with the central defender shouldering the burden of responsibility in the hosts’ backline following the suspension of captain Thiago Silva.

Against the best Germany striker of the last 15 years, Miroslav Klose, Dante will rely a lot on his knowledge of German football, having played in the Bundesliga for the past five seasons.

Dante’s pace and his ability to read the game like few defenders in the world will be tested by Klose, who does not need a lot of space to hurt opponents. Chasing a record 16th World Cup goal, the 36-year-old Klose’s experience and goal prowess will be needed if the Germans are to advance to their first World Cup final since 2002.

Klose’s effectiveness in close-quarter combat is almost legendary but Dante is quicker than teammate David Luiz and should also cope better with Klose’s aerial threat.

Brazil forward Fred vs. Germany defender Mats Hummels: At the other end of the pitch, Germany central defender Mats Hummels will have to shackle forward Fred, who will have added responsibilities following the injury absence of Neymar.

Fred, hugely experienced, has had a quiet World Cup so far, netting just once. He has had to soak up a lot of criticism for failing to score more goals as Brazil’s sole centre forward.

With talismanic Neymar out with a back injury, more will be expected of Fred whose positional sense is outstanding. Hummels cannot afford to take his eyes off the 30-year-old inside the box even if he is far less effective than a few years ago.

The German can physically match the tall forward, is very strong in the air and more agile than his central defence partner Jerome Boateng which should help him keep wily Fred away from danger.

Brazil midfielder Oscar vs. Germany defender Phillip Lahm: The gifted Oscar will also have more attacking duties with Neymar out but he will come up against one of the best right-backs in the business. Oscar’s quick pace and skills will be tested by Lahm, who reverted back to his fullback duties midway through the tournament after a less than successful stint as holding midfielder.

With the Germany captain also adding attacking impetus, Oscar will need to be fully alert if he is to nip quick German counter-attacks launched by Lahm in the bud.

Brazil midfielder Hulk vs. Germany defender Benedikt Hoewedes: It will be equally hard work for Germany’s left back Hoewedes against athletic Hulk. Hoewedes, a trained central defender, has been deployed as fullback in this tournament and has largely been successful.

While he does not contribute to launching quick breaks and remains a far more defensive fullback than Lahm, he must be at the top of his game against Hulk, who loves nothing more than challenging defenders to match his speed and power.

Hoewedes will need to avoid being lured too far out of position by Hulk, who often switches sides. Extremely powerful and quick Hulk will be a major challenge for workhorse Hoewedes, who lacks the Brazilian’s pace and strength.

The referee who failed to see Luis Suarez bite an opponent has been picked to officiate Brazil’s World Cup semifinal against Germany.

FIFA says on its website that Marco Rodriguez of Mexico will referee the match in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday.

Rodriguez has handled two World Cup matches, including Uruguay’s 1-0 win against Italy on June 24.

Suarez’s bite of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder went unseen and unpunished by the Mexican match officials. FIFA later banned Suarez for nine international matches and four months from all football activity. He has appealed.

Earlier, Rodriquez showed Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio a red card for a serious foul.

FIFA says Mark Geiger of the United States will be fourth official for the match. He was also fourth official for Uruguay vs. Italy.

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