Today, Brazilian star Neymar was kneed out of the World Cup with a serious back injury. Widely considered the third best player in the world, after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar was severely injured by Colombian defender, Juan Zuniga, who intentionally kneed the striker in the back on a play that did not even earn a foul, let alone a yellow card.
Brazilian team doctor, Rodrigo Lasmar, told Brazil’s Sports TV “Unfortunately, he’s not going to be able to play. It is not serious in the sense that if doesn’t require surgery, but he’ll need to immobilize to recover.”
Brazilian daily O Globo ran a banner headline that said: "Neymar fractures vertebra and is out of the World Cup." Colombian daily El Espectador had a front page with four articles on the tournament. The first one quoted Colombia's Argentine coach, Jose Pekerman, saying "Colombia had a great World Cup." Two articles addressed the poor officiating in the match and how well James Rodriguez played. The last one stated: "Neymar ended the Colombia-Brazil match injured."
When the foul first occurred the play continued, as no infraction was called. But players knew the injury was serious as the Brazilian striker was yelling in agony and remained prone on the pitch. Marcelo rushed to his side and after checking on his teammate, yelled at the ref to stop the match and attend to Neymar.
The game’s head official, Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo, has now crowned himself the worst of the tournament, barring a scandalously worse performance by another official. Coach Felipe Scolari said: “Neymar was going to be hunted. For three matches that has been happening.”
The injury, which was severe enough for the player to be stretchered off the field, as he could not rise on his own from the pitch, saw Neymar immediately rushed from the stadium to a local hospital. Crowds gathered outside the Fortaleza hospital where Neymar was taken, keeping a vigil. Tests showed that the striker had a fractured third vertebra. The crowds, when informed of the extent of the injury remained stunned. Several decided to remain in a sign of support for their fallen star.
The good news, that the fracture will heal and no surgery will be needed, was tempered by the bad news--that he will need a brace that will immobilize him for a minimum of six-to-eight weeks. After that care, there will be the normal recuperation period for such a serious injury of a minimum of (approximately) another 2-3 months. He will thus miss the first month or two of the next La Liga season.
Further news may come later tonight or early tomorrow, but for now Brazil will meet a much superior Germany in the semifinals without their two best players, Neymar and Thiago Silva. The Brazilians have not been playing well as they simply never possessed the roster the Germans, Argentines, Dutch, Chileans, Colombians, Uruguayans, or Mexicans, have. Brazil will be at a severe disadvantage in the semifinals and with two of four favorites either out or on their way, the field seems open for the remaining pre-tournament favorites to benefit.