When it comes to Brazil’s 2-1 win against Colombia, that launches the home country into the semifinal, great doesn’t begin to cover it.
In the quarterfinal match the Brazilians came at their South American rivals with gusto, playing a much more physical game than the side is known for, and rarely letting Colombian superstar James Rodriguez touch the ball.
This physical blitzkrieg seemingly paid off, as the Brazilians dominated proceedings in the opening half and led 1-0 at the break courtesy of a 7th minute goal from captain Thiago Silva.
Even in a more balanced second half the Brazilians would not bend, with defender David Luiz scoring a rocketed free kick from long-range to double the lead.
James Rodriguez would later pull one back for Colombia, scoring an 80th minute penalty, and forcing a tense final few minutes for the hosts.
As the Colombian pressure mounted, with the team pushing for a late equaliser, defender Juan Camilo Zuniga attempted to win the ball back and collided with the back of Brazilian superstar Neymar.
Replays showed the defender’s knee colliding with the back of Neymar, and as advantage was played for Brazil, Neymar lay at the opposite end of the pitch writhing in pain.
Neymar was stretchered off the pitch in the 88th minute and replaced by Henrique, and the Brazilians held off the late Colombian push to advance to the semifinals against Germany.
While the celebrations raged on across the country Neymar made his way to a hospital, where the news wasn’t any better than it looked on the pitch.
Brazil’s team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar announced that Neymar had broken his third vertebra, and was out for the remainder of the tournament, however long that will last.
“It’s not serious in the sense that it doesn’t need surgery, but he’ll need to immobilize to recover,” Lasmar said according to Fox Sports. “Unfortunately, he’s not going to be able to play.”
Manager Luiz Felipe Scolari said after the match that the pain the 22-year-old was going through was obvious.
“He was crying out in pain,” Scolari said. “It won’t be easy for him to recover, based on what the doctor told us and the pain he’s in.”
Scolari would also call out the officials, and the fact that a back-breaking challenge wasn’t even enough to warrant a yellow card.
“Not even a yellow card, nothing,” Scolari said. “For Thiago, who was running in front of the goalkeeper, he gets a yellow card, so we can’t understand some things. But everyone knows Neymar was going to be hunted. For three matches that has been happening and we have been saying that, but no-one thinks that is the case.”
Zuniga was also asked about the foul following the match, and said it wasn’t his intention to injury the Brazilian star.
“I never meant to hurt a player,” Zuniga said according to NBC Sports. “I was just defending my shirt.”
Aside from Neymar, who has very much become the face of Brazil in recent years, the hosts will also be without Silva for the semifinal.
The yellow card referenced above by Scolari was Silva’s second of the tournament, which will see the defender suspended for card accumulation.
Although the Brazilians will miss their captain, not all is lost in the defense as his likely replacement, Dante, is a Bayern Munich player and will be familiar with a number of the German players he will be playing against.
The semifinal match is scheduled for Tuesday at 4 p.m. in Belo Horizonte to decide one of the two spots in the final at the Maracana.