The Sport Matrix: Tuesday 8 July 2014


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The Independent Online

Luiz relishing lead role as hosts near dream Rio final

With Neymar injured and Thiago Silva banned for tonight’s semi-final against Germany in Belo Horizonte, Brazil will be lacking their talisman and their captain.

Many teams would crumble with such players missing at a pivotal time, but David Luiz is intent on leading his team-mates to a dream final at the Maracana on Sunday.

“I’m ready,” he said. “I’m vice-captain and this group is very easy to handle because everyone’s very down to earth. It won’t be a tough job at all.”

The former Chelsea defender, often criticised in England, is only behind Neymar in terms of Brazilian poster boys. Willian is set to replace the Barcelona forward tonight. MORE

Time for Germany to reach potential

Joachim Low believes his Germany side can finally realise their full potential and reach a major final. They were knocked out of in the last four at the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championships, but Low said: “We’ve been playing consistently at the very highest level. We’re not done yet.” MORE

Real icon Di Stefano passes away

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez led the tributes to Alfredo Di Stefano after “the greatest player of all-time” died yesterday. The 88-year-old, who played for Spain and Argentina, suffered a heart attack on Saturday and his death was confirmed yesterday afternoon after he had been put in an induced coma. MORE

Di Maria absence will change system

With Angel Di Maria missing for Argentina as they prepare to face the Netherlands tomorrow, coach Alejandro Sabella may change a formation that brings the best out of Lionel Messi. Enzo Perez or Maxi Rodriguez are expected to come in for the Real Madrid midfielder, whose direct running helps Messi find space.  MORE

Crowds come out to enjoy Tour route

Cambridge, Essex, Saffron Walden and finishing off down The Mall. That was the Tour de France route on day three, with huge crowds gathering in London as the stage started 97 miles away. Every verge seemed to be occupied by flag-waving children and a forest of cameras. MORE

Kittel claims sprint supremacy

Germany’s Marcel Kittel produced another show of raw power to win his second stage of this year’s Tour de France yesterday, storming down The Mall in style. One of Kittel’s main sprint rivals, Mark Cavendish, is out of the Tour after injuring his right shoulder. MORE

England could spin out against India

Stuart Broad admits the English pitches could play right into India’s hands this summer, with Alastair Cook’s men lacking a renowned spinner after Graeme Swann’s retirement. “If they’re dry, India will be licking their lips with the two spinners, won’t they?” Broad said. MORE

Hamilton closing in on win record

Lewis Hamilton says all he wants is a second World Championship, but admits he is honoured to have the support of Nigel Mansell as he chases his record. Mansell is the most successful British driver ever with 31 race victories. Hamilton now has 27. MORE

Djokovic: Becker is key to my success

Novak Djokovic praised the “mental toughness” new coach Boris Becker has brought to his game after securing his second Wimbledon crown. “He told me he knew I had the game to win and I just needed to hang in there,” the Serb said. MORE

Yorkshire duo set another record

Adam Lyth and Alex Lees  compiled their second record-breaking stand of the season for Yorkshire yesterday. The openers put on 275 for the first wicket, the county’s highest against Durham. They amassed 370 runs at Northamptonshire in June. MORE

Brace barred from Glasgow games

Ashley Brace’s dream of gracing the debut of women’s boxing at the Commonwealth Games is over. The Welsh woman has fought in another professional combat sport - kick-boxing - meaning she is barred from the event. 

Alex Bellos

Six Müllers will cheer on their namesake Thomas against the World Cup hosts today, but they’re not from where you might think. Welcome to Pomerode, “the most German town in Brazil”. MORE