Ready to help fill the Neymar void, Willian downplays injury concerns

Ronald Martinez

They may not have been overly impressive, but Brazil's march to the World Cup title was rolling along quite inevitably... until Juan Zuniga's knee fractured a vertebra in Neymar's back* and sent a whole nation into a cycle of worry and anxiety.  Add to that Thiago Silva's suspension for an entirely needless yellow card that even that most reluctant of referees couldn't possibly not give, and suddenly Brazil's prospects are looking a bit less rosy.

* By the way, how unlucky and unlikely is that injury?  There may be a witch-hunt out for Zuniga, but really, that sort of challenge happens fairly often and this is certainly the first time I've ever seen or heard of somebody fracturing a vertebra because of it.  Absolute craziness.

While Thiago Silva's replacement in Tuesday's semifinal against Germany is a fairly obvious choice in Bayern Munich's Dante, Neymar's replacement is not, and not just because his unique skill-set is irreplaceable.  Any three of Willian, Bernard, or even Ramires could conceivably start in place of Brazil's talisman, though my money's on Willian.  Then again, had I been a betting man, I would've lost a few similar bets already thinking that Willian would start for the mostly ineffective Hulk.  That being said, Brazil's captain agrees.

"I'm sure we have good spare parts. I believe very much in Willian, who has almost the same features as Neymar and believe in this moment he will fill the gap very well. This is where we have to show the strength of the group."

-Thiago Silva; source: Goal

That's certainly high praise for the Chelsea man, one perhaps born more out of hope than reality.  Willian brings many things to the table, but individual Neymar-esque brilliance isn't one of them.  A more likely scenario may be that he takes over the Oscar role (at which he's been even better than Oscar himself at times last season) and Oscar gets thrust into the limelight as Brazil's leading man.  After last year's Confederations Cup and the opening match against Croatia, it wouldn't be the first time he put Brazil on his back.

This plan could've been scuppered by the hip injury that Willian picked up yesterday.  Fortunately, it sounds like that won't be much a problem.

"I am feeling great. I was hurt on my left side in training yesterday (Saturday) and it bothers me a bit but it is nothing significant and it won't stop me training today."

-Willian; source: FIFA

Go on, Willian!  Make us proud.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join We Ain't Got No History

You must be a member of We Ain't Got No History to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at We Ain't Got No History. You should read them.

Join We Ain't Got No History

You must be a member of We Ain't Got No History to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at We Ain't Got No History. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker