Brazil launch Silva bid as semis loom

Rob Woollard
Brazil's captain Thiago Silva (centre) receives a yellow card during the World Cup quarter-final against Colombia at the Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza, on July 4, 2014
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Brazil's captain Thiago Silva (centre) receives a yellow card during the World Cup quarter-final against Colombia at the Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza, on July 4, 2014 (AFP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Brazil stoked controversy ahead of the World Cup semi-finals Sunday by urging FIFA to scrap the suspension ruling 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 that saw left star striker Neymar out of the tournament.

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

Neymar cried "I can't feel my legs" after Zuniga's knee in the back challenge, Brazil's coach Luiz Felipe Scolari told Spanish sports daily Marca.

Scolari said the whole team panicked.

Left back Marcelo was first to reach the striker, who suffered a fractured vertebrae.

Marcelo knelt next to Neymar and asked how he felt, according to Scolari. "He replied: 'I can't feel my legs,'" added the coach.

Marcelo shouted for the team doctor, but doctors are not allowed onto the pitch.

"It was a big shock, the image of Neymar being stretchered off to the helicopter, in difficulty, crying," Scolari was quoted as saying.

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 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 win his 107th cap 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 have would be 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 one was the 2002 World Cup final won by Brazil in Japan.

FIFA meanwhile confirmed that Mexican official Marco Rodriguez, who was in charge of the Uruguay-Italy game earlier in the tournament that saw Luis Suarez bite an opponent, would handle Tuesday's semi-final.

The semi-final lineup 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 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.

Krul revealed Sunday he had only been informed of the gambit shortly before the match.

"The manager and the goalie coach told me before the game if we had a substitute left, the possibility was there to use me in the penalty shootout," said Krul.

"The whole game I was watching it differently because I knew the possibility was there."

Striker Robin Van Persie revealed the Dutch had done their homework down to the last detail to ensure their takers played their part and hit the target.

"The goalkeeping coach had prepared us very well for the spotkicks," he said.

"The idea to bring in Krul was a stroke of genius -- and our keeper was extraordinary."