Brazil’s World Cup hopes may have been dealt a big blow on Friday with the tournament-ending injury to star man Neymar, but captain Thiago Silva believes that Chelsea’s Willian is capable of stepping up to fill the void.
Suffering a fractured vertebra towards the end of their quarter-final win against Colombia, Brazil will now have to find a way to claim an historic sixth title without their 22-year-old talisman, but Silva believes that Willian can ensure his absence is not felt as much as anticipated.
'I'm sure we have good spare parts,’ he said. ‘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.
‘We've lost our standout player, I believe one of the most important players when it comes to the World Cup, but the group must be stronger than the individual. We must be prepared, regardless of any absences.’
Having moved to Chelsea from Anzhi Makhachkala last August for £32 million, Willian managed just four goals in 42 games during his first season at Stamford Bridge but was still praised for his impressive creative play which duly saw him earn a place in Luiz Felipe Scolari's 23-man World Cup squad.
With 10 caps since his 2011 debut, the 25-year-old winger briefly appeared as a substitute in the group games against Mexico and Cameroon, as well as the last-16 win over Chile, going on to miss one of the penalties in the shootout.
Now likely to have a decisive role in the line-up for Tuesday’s semi-final clash with Germany, Willian faces a far-from-easy task in replacing the player who had previously spearheaded an underwhelming Brazil side’s run to the last eight, especially if the likes of Fred and Hulk continue to misfire in front of goal.