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The Selecao skipper says that there is no way the tackle which left the 22-year-old with a fractured vertebra was accidental and backs Dante to shine in his place against Germany

By Ben Hayward in Belo Horizonte

Brazil defender Thiago Silva has hit out at Colombia's Juan Zuniga for his "cowardly" tackle on Neymar in the World Cup quarter-final on Friday, which left the forward with a fractured vertebra.

Zuniga caught Neymar on the back with his knees in a reckless challenge which left the 22-year-old in agony, claiming that he was unable to feel his legs, and ended his participation in the tournament.

The Colombia defender has since apologised and claimed that the action was accidental but Silva says that his hypthothesis is impossible.

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"It's Fifa's decision [not to punish Zuniga] and we have to respect it," he said at his side's pre-match press conference ahead of their World Cup semi-final against Germany on Tuesday, "but I'm a central defender and I have never gone in with my knee high up like that on a rival's back.

"It was a cowardly tackle. There's no way you have you knee high up like that unless you want to cause a certain situation. It's not a normal match situation. That's my opinion on the matter."

Thiago Silva is suspended for Tuesday's game and let it slip that he will be replaced by Bayern Munich defender Dante, causing coach Luiz Felipe Scolari to smile after the Brazil boss had repeatedly refused to reveal his starting line-up.

"Dante can replace me," the Paris Saint-Germain player said. "I spoke to him at the end of the Colombia match and I told him that his opportunity would come. Now it's up to the coach to select him.

"He is always one of the last left in the gym and one of the last to leave training. I played with him at Juventude in 2004 and I know how hard he was worked to get here so I am sure he will be happy to go out now and show his skills."

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