With Arsenal on the keeper hunt, Brazil stopper must shine

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As the World Cup semi-finals approach, the search is on for Brazil to find a new hero after their selfie-loving poster boy Neymar was ruled out of the remainder of the competition with a fractured vertebra.

The way this tournament has gone though, it wouldn’t be a surprise if it was the man wearing the Samba Boys’ gloves, rather than one of their attacking stars, who fills the void left by the bleach-haired dynamo.

Goalkeepers have been doing their utmost to stem the flow of strikes in Brazil but Julio Cesar is yet to join the list of regular-time stellar performances.

The Brazilian has made just six saves from his five appearances at these finals, a figure that has him ranked 25th on the list of save makers during the tournament.

But with the competition close to reaching its climax and the quality of opponent on the increase with every passing match, the QPR man is likely to be called into action more often than not.

That could well start with the semi-final against Germany, which Brazil are 7/4 to win, and a spotlight-hogging performance couldn’t be more timely for the 34-year-old.

Having fallen out of favour with Harry Redknapp at Loftus Road last term, Cesar played just seven games in a short loan spell with Toronto FC prior to the start of the World Cup.

The Hoops’ return to the top flight isn’t likely to change Cesar’s status in the squad and he could play his way onto the shortlist of other clubs in need of a new glove-wearer.

Arsenal are sure to be an attractive proposition for the Brazilian, as they require some competition for Wojciech Szczesny having sold Lukasz Fabianski this summer.

So with the prospect of winning a home World Cup for an injured teammate already driving the Brazil squad on, there’s yet another reason for their keeper to put on a determined show.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.