When Neymar was stretchered off the field in the dying moments of Brazil's quarter-final victory over Colombia on Friday, Brazil fans feared the worst. Confirmation came from the hospital soon after: the forward had fractured a vertebra and would miss the rest of the World Cup.
Immediately, the speculation began over how Luiz Felipe Scolari would set his side up to counteract the absence of its talisman and top scorer against Germany. Pick an extra central midfielder and hope for a goal from a set piece? Start Willian wide and give Oscar a more central role? No one could replace Neymar's star quality, of course, but there were decisions to be made, plans to be foiled.
Yet amid all the bluster, it was almost forgotten that Brazil would be missing another key player in the semifinal. And in the event, Thiago Silva, suspended after picking up a silly booking against Colombia, would prove the more telling loss.
Read the rest of this piece, on Brazil's defensive implosion, on the ESPN FC blog.