As far as football crises go they don’t come much bigger for Brazil than Neymar, their talisman and World Cup poster boy, being ruled out for arguably the most pivotal two games in the Selecao’s rich tournament history.
However, as desperate a situation as this perceivably is for the hosts, in Neymar’s absence the mantle of Brazil’s 2014 hero is there for whichever Samba Boy can step up to the plate.
Ironically, it’s the man whose very name carries hero connotations who can be just that player and it’s not ‘Super Fred’.
So far at this tournament, Zenit St Petersburg striker Hulk has failed to make the transformation from Bruce Banner to insatiable green goal-scoring monster, but his performances have grown more impressive by the game.
The former Porto ace is yet to hit the net for Brazil, but he’s an 11/4 poke to provide a goal anytime against Germany and a tempting 8/1 dig to score the first goal.
Operating as a wide-left forward in Luiz Felipe Scolari’s 4-3-3 system Hulk had cut a peripheral figure in the early group games but sprung into life against Chile and Colombia, catching the eye with his direct running at goal.
In fact, according to WhoScored.com Hulk ranks 20th overall at the finals in successfully completed dribbles, with only Neymar ahead of him for Brazil, while he’s attempted the second most shots of Scolari’s squad so far.
If Hulk – who’s international record stands at very nearly one in every four games – fails to break his tournament duck, then it’s a bit of an indictment on this Brazil side that centre-back David Luiz offers arguably the biggest goal-threat besides.
With two to his name already, PSG’s latest signing is a 6/1 chance to fire a third goal for Scolari against Die Mannschaft.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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