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World Cup live blog: July 8

Brazil takes on Germany in the first semifinal, which will kick off at 4 p.m. Eastern time.

Preview: Brazil, unlikely underdog | How Brazil can win | Knockout-round bracket | Streaming coverage | Full coverage

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There are a lot of Neymars at the Brazil vs. Germany match

(Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images)

(Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images)

“We are all Neymar.” That is the theme of today’s World Cup semifinal between Brazil and Germany and the fans are more than happy to comply. Thousands are donning cut-out masks of the absent Brazilian star, who is currently recovering from a back injury. So, while Neymar won’t be on the pitch today, he’ll definitely be in the stands.

(Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

(Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

(Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

(Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Marissa Payne
July 8, 3:23 pm
  • Marissa Payne July 8, 3:23 pm

Germany releases its lineup

Marissa Payne
July 8, 3:24 pm
  • Marissa Payne July 8, 3:24 pm

Brazil releases its lineup

Notably absent, of course, is Neymar and team captain Thiago Silva, who is suspended thanks to two previous yellow cards.

Marissa Payne
July 8, 3:25 pm
  • Marissa Payne July 8, 3:25 pm

Russian priest thinks soccer cleats are "gay"

(Victor R. Caivano/AP)

(Victor R. Caivano/AP)

The weather can be extreme in Russia, but that shouldn’t mean the views need to be. But it seems no one told Alexander Shumsky, a Russian priest who called the World Cup a “homosexual abomination” because of the brightly colored soccer cleats the players wear that promote the “gay rainbow.” Uh-huh.

“Wearing pink or blue shoes, [the players] might as well wear women’s panties or a bra,” Shumsky wrote in a column on Christian website Russian People’s Line, according to the Moscow Times.

Check out the full story by The Washington Post’s Sarah Larimer by clicking here.

Marissa Payne
July 8, 3:34 pm
  • Marissa Payne July 8, 3:34 pm

Here's how Brazil can win without Neymar

Think Neymar is essential? Writer Michael Caley doesn’t think so. He wrote in The Washington Post:

Willian is the best choice for a Neymar replacement. He cannot do what Neymar does in the center of the pitch, but placing the combative, hard-working Chelsea midfielder on the wing would free Oscar to take on his natural playmaking role behind the striker.

While Neymar has been fantastic for Brazil, the system that has freed Neymar has also shackled Oscar. Willian cannot replace Neymar, but it is possible that a system which gets the most out of both Oscar and Willian could replace much of what has been lost.

Read the rest of the story by clicking here.

Brazil’s coach is choosing to play it a different way. He’s sending in Bernard in place of Neymar instead.

Marissa Payne
July 8, 3:38 pm
  • Marissa Payne July 8, 3:38 pm

Brazil's hoping for a repeat 14 years later

(Brazil won.)

Marissa Payne
July 8, 3:43 pm
  • Marissa Payne July 8, 3:43 pm

Neymar's still watching you...

(Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

(Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

He doesn’t even need eyes.

Marissa Payne
July 8, 3:44 pm
  • Marissa Payne July 8, 3:44 pm

Neymar sends his positive vibes over Instagram

He accompanied the team photos with this message, translated loosely from Portuguese:

“I cannot thank all of you enough for the thousands of messages of support I have received since Friday … I wanted to be able to speak more than one language to thank everyone. I followed, or tried to follow, everything that was published … These messages made these last days less painful. Today I will watch the Brazil vs. Germany match from the outside … I’ll be one among 200 million fans and I know how important it is for those guys! So I wanted to thank everyone who sent me their positive energy and also wanted to ask everyone to cross their fingers until the last second because I want very, very much to be with everyone (fans and my teammates) next Sunday on the field at Maracana. God is great!”

Marissa Payne
July 8, 3:58 pm
  • Marissa Payne July 8, 3:58 pm

Brazil vs. Germany kicks off!

(Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images)

(Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images)

Marissa Payne
July 8, 4:00 pm
  • Marissa Payne July 8, 4:00 pm

Brazil gets the first corner kick

Oscar kicked it but it didn’t wind up in the German goal.

Marissa Payne
July 8, 4:02 pm
  • Marissa Payne July 8, 4:02 pm
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