Brazilian team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar announced that Neymar would miss the rest of the World Cup after fracturing his vertebrae during a quarterfinal match on Friday.
“He will not be in condition to play, he will need a few weeks to be fit again,” said Lasmar who added that the star striker will not have to undergo surgery.
Neymar became injured when Colombia defender Juan Camilo Zúñiga kneed him in the back in the 86th minute of the match. The 22-year-old crumpled to the ground and was carried on a stretcher off the field. He was subsequently transported to a medical clinic in Fortaleza where Lasmar made his assessment.
“I never had the intent of hurting the player,” said Zúñiga after the match to reporters. “On the field we have to play tough but never with the aim of injuring a player,” he added regarding the striker who scored four goals for Brazil in this World Cup.
Thiago Silva, Brazilian team captain and the scorer of his team’s first goal against Colombia, defended Zúñiga as someone who “doesn’t have any malice” when he usually plays. He also downplayed worries that Brazil will falter in the next round against Germany due to Neymar’s absence.
“This moment could start a revolution for us. We’ve pledged to win the Cup for Neymar…This is the moment when we have to show our strength as a team.”
Brazilian player Hulk complained that the referees “need to do more” to protect Neymar who had been playing with a knee and thigh injury after a rough match in the Round of 16 victory against Chile. Yet the incident came late in a match marred by shoddy officiating led by referee Carlos Velasco Carballo of Spain. Carballo, who claimed, “Refereeing is like trying to tame a horse,” received complaints from Brazilian and Colombian players for his poor officiating. Both teams committed a whopping fifty-four fouls, which was three more than the previous record-holder (Brazil vs. Chile) for this tournament. But only four yellow cards were handed out as the referee failed to exert control over the match. As U.S. soccer journalist Grant Wahl noted in the first half:
Whistle (no card), whistle (no card), whistle (no card), whistle (no card), whistle (no card), whistle (no card), whistle (no card), whistle
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) July 4, 2014
Neymar had a very quiet game against a Colombian side that made it to the final eight of the World Cup for the first time in their history. Nevertheless, he assisted on the first goal when his corner kick drifted above several Colombian defenders and was knocked in by Silva in the 7th minute. Goalkeeper David Ospina denied several Brazilian chances in the first half but was beaten by David Luiz with a superb free kick goal in the 68th minute. Colombia's breakout star James Rodriguez cut Brazil’s lead in half via a penalty kick but the Verde-Amarela held on to book their first trip to the semifinals since 2002.
Video Source – YouTube user João da Rocha
Online Sources – BBC Sport; Twitter; El Universal; pontealdia.com; El Espectador; FIFIA.com; Associated Press; Univision.com