All eyes now on Di Maria and Silva
BRAZIL launched a desperate appeal to have skipper Thiago Silva's ban for their World Cup semi-final against Germany overturned, but Argentinian hopes of seeing Angel Di Maria in action against the Netherlands were ended by injury.
Doctors confirmed that Di Maria will miss the semi-final against the Dutch because of a thigh problem, but they did not rule the winger out of the final should Argentina prevail in Sao Paulo.
"Angel has a Grade 1 injury. Of course, he won't play in Argentina's next game. After that, we'll evaluate the situation day by day," team doctor Daniel Martinez told reporters.
Silva was also expected to miss the semi-final after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament in the 2-1 win over Colombia.
The central defender was cautioned for needlessly blocking keeper David Ospina as he was taking a kick.
Fifa said it was analysing an appeal from the Brazilian Football Association.
Silva's presence in the team would be a huge fillip for a Brazilian public still reeling from the loss of talismanic striker Neymar, who was ruled out of the rest of the tournament after fracturing a vertebra in the win over Colombia.
That incident continued to be shown on sports news bulletins on local television, but Brazil's former World Cup-winning captain, Carlos Alberto Torres, hoped it might end up being a good omen for the current squad.
The 1970 skipper recalled how Amarildo and Garrincha had stepped up to fill the void left by an injury to Pele in 1962, and helped steer Brazil to the title.
"In the 1962 World Cup, we lost Pele," he told Sportv. "Maybe someone will wake up and become the Garrincha of 1962."
Germany were sure Neymar's absence would not weaken the challenge facing them in Belo Horizonte, with Bastian Schweinsteiger expecting Brazil to draw strength from the adversity suffered by their poster boy.
However, Schweinsteiger's coach, Joachim Loew, was more concerned about the methods Brazil might use in the mouth-watering last-four clash, wary of a repeat of the tough tackling that marked their win over Colombia.
"There's precious little left of that traditional Brazilian style of soccer, that artistic style of playing that we all know so well," Loew said in an interview at his team's base camp on the Atlantic coast.
"For sure, Brazil still have good technical players. But they're playing more robustly than any other team here, and they have been trying to break up their opponent's attack that way."
Brazil have made no apology for the 31 fouls they committed against Colombia.