FORTALEZA, Brazil - Not long after celebrating another all-important win at the World Cup, Brazil was jolted by the loss of its biggest star. Neymar, the tournament's poster boy with the dyed-blonde fauxhawk, suffered a fractured vertebra in his back during a 2-1 quarterfinal victory over Colombia yesterday.
FORTALEZA, Brazil — Not long after celebrating another all-important win at the World Cup, Brazil was jolted by the loss of its biggest star.
Neymar, the tournament’s poster boy with the dyed-blonde fauxhawk, suffered a fractured vertebra in his back during a 2-1 quarterfinal victory over Colombia yesterday.
The striker has been ruled out for the rest of the competition, dealing a huge blow to Brazil’s chances of finally winning a World Cup at home.
Brazil advanced to the semifinals for the first time in 12 years, with the goals coming from defenders Thiago Silva and David Luiz. But the jubilation was quickly tempered when team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said that Neymar suffered a break to his third vertebra and is expected to be out for several weeks, starting with Tuesday’s semifinal against Germany.
“It’s a situation that leaves us in a difficult position,” Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. “But we have great players, and if I have to change something, I will do it and we will be OK.”
The 22-year-old Neymar has been the focal point of both the Brazilian team and the entire World Cup, and he lived up to expectations with four goals in the three group-stage games.
But he took a knee to the back late in the game against Colombia in a collision with Juan Camilo Zuniga. The Brazilian star was crying in pain as he was carried off the field. He was taken to a private clinic but has been released.
“He will not be in condition to play; he will need a few weeks to be fit again,” said Lasmar, the team doctor. “He is very, very sad.”
The foul on Neymar came toward the end of one of the dirtiest games of the tournament, as Brazil committed 31 fouls and Colombia 23.
Brazil also will be without Silva for Tuesday’s game. The team captain must sit out after getting his second yellow card of the tournament after impeding Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina.
Brazil, which is trying to become the first host to win the World Cup since France in 1998, had been eliminated in the quarterfinals at the two most-recent tournaments. The “Selecao” lost in the quarterfinals to the Netherlands in 2010 and to France in 2006 after winning its fifth title in 2002.
Back in 1950, Brazil needed only a draw in the final to win the World Cup, but the team lost to Uruguay.
This time around, Brazil won its group and then beat Chile on penalties in the second round.
Yesterday against Colombia, Silva gave Brazil the lead in the seventh minute, scoring with his left knee after a corner kick from Neymar passed through the Colombian defense. Silva celebrated the goal by pointing to the emblem on his jersey and shouting, “This is Brazil, this is Brazil."
Luiz added the second from a free kick in the 69th minute, side-footing a long-range shot into the top of the net.
Colombia got one back in the 80th. James Rodriguez scored his tournament-leading sixth goal on a penalty kick after Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar brought down substitute Carlos Bacca inside the area.
Rodriguez tried to control the pace of the game, but it was Brazil that created most of the scoring chances, as Ospina had to make a series of saves in the first half alone.
The Colombians tried to pressure after Rodriguez’s late score, but Brazil held on with solid defending.
Colombia, playing in the World Cup for the first time since 1998 and in its first quarterfinal, entered the game having scored 11 goals, second only to the Netherlands.