Neymar, Brazil’s standout striker, will not be able to help his team continue on its run for a World Cup victory, as he’s been sidelined with a fractured vertebra.

Neymar Fractures Vertebra

In the World Cup quarterfinal game between Brazil and Columbia, a total of 54 fouls were called. One of those fouls, called late in the second half, was against Colombia defender Juan Camilo Zuniga, who leveled Neymar with a knee to the back. Following the play, Neymar remained on his stomach, clearly in pain and reaching at his lower back. The 22-year-old standout was carried off the field on a stretcher.

Following the game, Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, admitted that it was dubious that his best scorer would not be able to return to the pitch for their semifinal game against powerhouse Germany.

“He was crying out in pain,” Scolari said of Neymar in his post-match interview. “It won’t be easy for him to recover, based on what the doctor told us and the pain he’s in.”

Scolari’s concern was soon underscored by a report from the Brazil team doctor, Rodrigo Lasmar. Lasmar delivered the crushing news that though Neymar would not require surgery to repair his back, he would need to be immobilized for three to four weeks in order for it to heal – therefore eliminating him from further play in the World Cup.

Juan Camilo Zuniga Addresses Neymar Foul

Zuniga admits that he was playing phyically in the match – which many blame the referee for allowing to get out of hand – but he has denied intentionally injurying Neymar.

"On the pitch I'm defending my shirt, my country, but I didn't expect him to fracture a vertebrae. He is a great talent for Brazil and for the world," he said, adding of the foul, "It's a normal action, I tried to shadow him. I was not thinking of hurting him. I was defending my countrys colours."

Throughout the early round of the 2014 World Cup, Neymar ably led the Brazilian squad to victory, netting four goals in the tournament and providing the corner kick assist on Thiago Silva’s header goal to give Brazil the early lead over Colombia Friday evening. Neymar’s injury occurred with just five minutes left in the game when Brazil was leading Columbia 2-1 after David Luiz scored on a free kick and James Rodriquez had put away a penalty kick to get Colombia back in the game.

Scolari remains optimistic that Brazil still has a chance at capturing the sixth World Cup victory for the country. “There are seven steps, and we’ve already climbed five,” he said after news of Neymar’s prognosis broke.

Not only will Neymar be out for the semifinal, but also the team’s centerback and captain, Silva, who will be missing due to yellow-card accumulation.

Brazil will face Germany in the semifinals Tuesday at 4 p.m. EST.

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