Neymar out of World Cup after vertebra factured against Colombia
Brazil on Friday lost superstar striker Neymar for the World Cup after he fractured a vertebra during his side’s 2-1 World Cup quarter final win over Colombia.
Colombia defender Juan Zuniga kneed the 22-year-old Neymar in a crunching tackle and the Barcelona player was stretchered off in agony in the closing minutes of the game in Forteleza.
The injury and the suspension of captain Thiago Silva for the semi-final against Germany overshadowed a sensational David Luiz goal that sealed victory in one of the most physical games seen at this World Cup.
A hospital exam “showed he suffered a fracture of the third vertebra” in his back, team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar told reporters.
Rodrigo Lasmar told Brazil’s SportTV: “It’s not serious in the sense that it doesn’t need surgery, but he’ll need to immobilise it to recover.
“Unfortunately, he’s not going to be able to play,” said Lasmar, adding that he expected the recovery period to take at least a few weeks.
Brazil face Germany in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday.
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari fumed that Neymar has been “hunted” throughout the tournament and that no punishment was given for the tackle on him.
“I have been saying for three matches that Neymar has been hunted, but all the other countries say it is not true and it is only their players that are hunted.”
Silva was booked for a second time in the tournament for impeding a clearance by Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina.
But in Zuniga’s case “there was not even a yellow card and Thiago got a yellow card for nothing,” Scolari said.
Neymar was grimacing in agony after the heavy challenge as he was taken off. He was taken to a local clinic and Lasmar revealed the break after the match.
“The exam showed he suffered a fracture of the third vertebra” in his back, Lasmar said.
Brazil are in the World Cup semi-finals for the first time in 12 years, but Scolari, who has vowed his side will win their sixth World Cup, now faces a major crisis.
Neymar, Brazil’s biggest star, has scored four goals for the team so far in the tournament.
“We’ll miss him,” teammate Oscar said. “Whoever comes in in his place has to play as part of the team and beat Germany.
“The best thing we do is play as a team and I just hope that whoever comes in plays well,” the attacking midfielder said.
The 22-year-old, who plays for Spanish club Barcelona, was replaced by defender Henrique for the final minutes of the game.
Brazil captain Thiago Silva, who will also miss the semi-final after being booked on Friday, refused to blame Zuniga for the injury.
“Zuniga is not a bad guy. But at that moment he wasn’t very prudent, he could have held up a bit, fouled in a different way.”
He said now was the time for Brazil players to come closer together and show even more solidarity on the pitch.
“In those times it is when the team shows its strength,” he said.
“Neymar is a very important guy for our group, we depend a lot on him. But potentially, this situation can mark a revolution for us, like ‘let’s win the Cup for Neymar’. This could help bring together the team even more,” he said,
Many Brazil fans had gathered outside the Fortaleza hospital, shouting “Forca Neymar” (be strong Neymar) as the player was being wheeled into the building.
Neymar also received support from the country’s president, Dilma Rousseff, who tweeted: “Like all Brazil I am one of those cheering from the sidelines for our star Neymar to get better.”
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Updated: July 5, 2014 04:00 AM