The Barcelona star has been ruled out of the rest of the World Cup through injury, and the Germany captain has empathised with the 22-year-old’s disappointment
Philipp Lahm says he is “especially sorry” for Neymar after injury brought a premature end to his World Cup, as Germany prepare to face Brazil in the semi-finals.
Germany go into Tuesday’s last four clash looking to reach an eighth final, and their task has been made considerably easier after the Barcelona star broke a vertebra in the Selecao’s quarter-final win over Colombia.
Brazil captain Thiago Silva will also miss the contest through suspension, but Lahm insists he would have preferred to face a full strength host nation.
“First of all, it is a pity that both are missing,” he said in an interview with Bild am Sonntag.
“I’m especially sorry for Neymar. To miss a semi-final at a home World Cup through injury is a bitter blow.
“In a World Cup you always intend to compete with the best. That’s why I would have preferred to play against Brazil with Neymar. But I believe that Brazil has enough players who can step into the breach for him. It is a difficult task.”
Lahm has increasingly seen himself deployed as a defensive midfielder rather than in the full-back role he is more accustomed to, starting the first four games of the World Cup in the centre of the pitch.
However, the Bayern Munich man was moved back into defence for the 1-0 quarter-final victory over France, but says he is not concerned where he plays, providing it is of benefit to the side.
“It is normal for people to discuss who should play where,” he added.
“This is football. It’s not a big deal for me. We had the situation where some players had just come back from injury when the World Cup started. The coach has decided that I should slot into midfield.
“We are unbeaten with me in the midfield in this tournament. It is important for me that the team successfully play football. And then it does not matter where I play.
“I have always put myself in my entire career at the service of the team. And I’ll continue to do so. Personal vanity has no place in a World Cup.
“Generally I always take genuine criticism. It’s part of football. I’ve known the business for ages. But for me – and that I will always continue to emphasise – it is crucial that the team plays successfully.”