2014 FIFA World Cup: Brazil launch Silva bid as semis loom

Rio de Janeiro: Brazil stoked controversy ahead of the World Cup semi-finals here on Sunday by calling on FIFA to scrap the suspension which has ruled captain Thiago Silva out of the host nation`s clash with Germany.

The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said it wanted FIFA to rescind the yellow card awarded against Silva during Friday`s bruising quarter-final win over Colombia.

The card against Silva was "unjustly shown" and the defender should therefore be allowed to face the Germans in Belo Horizonte, the CBF said in a statement.

The Brazilian association also demanded FIFA launch an investigation into the "violent challenge" by Colombia`s Juan Zuniga which saw star striker Neymar ruled out of the tournament.

Zuniga has apologised for the tackle but insisted there was no intention to injure the opponent.

If Brazil`s appeal of Silva`s suspension fails, they will line up against Germany missing two key players after Neymar`s injury exit.

However German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger said today he believes Neymar`s absence could spell trouble for his team, suggesting it may give the hosts a cause to rally around.

"It`ll bring the (Brazil) team together and they`ll want to win the title for him," Schweinsteiger said.

Schweinsteiger, who will play his 107th cap on Tuesday, said he would have preferred to be playing Brazil in the final.

"It`s an honour and a challenge to play against the hosts, but it would have been better to play Brazil in the final," he said.

"It doesn`t matter how much experience you have, to play the hosts in this football-crazy country, I mean that in a positive sense, is something special."

Tuesday`s match is only the second meeting in World Cup history between Brazil and Germany.
The previous meeting was the 2002 World Cup final won by Brazil in Japan.

The semi-final line-up was completed on Saturday with Argentina beating Belgium 1-0 to set up a showdown with the Netherlands, who defeated Costa Rica on penalties after a 0-0 draw.

Dutch coach Louis van Gaal awoke today to be greeted by headlines hailing his decision to substitute goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen for Tim Krul just moments before the end of extra-time as penalties loomed.

The decision proved to be inspired, with Krul saving two Costa Rican penalties as the Dutch progressed.

"In sport, at the highest level, success can be decided by the thinnest of margins. Sometimes it stems from luck, sometimes from a sixth sense," commented De Telegraaf.

Another Dutch daily, Volkskrant, also poured superlatives over the 62-year-old coach, who is due to step down and take over the reins at English Premier League giants Manchester United.

"The change was a masterstroke. Tim Krul saved two penalties," it purred.

Dutch TV station NOS also chimed in with admiring comments.

"Contrary to all expectations, Louis van Gaal replaced Cillessen by Tim Krul for the penalties. Tim Krul turned out to be the hero by saving two penalties."

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