From Ground Zero: Brazil win semi-final berth but lose Neymar

Zee Media Bureau/Shobhan Saxena from Fortaleza

Brazil’s star striker Neymar suffered a fracture in the vertebra on the left side in the dying moments of their match against Colombia which they won 2-1. But now, according to the medical department of the Brazilian team, Neymar will not play in the World Cup any more.

If Brazil has to win the World Cup for the sixth time, their team has two more matches to go. The first, on Tuesday, is the semi-final against Germany in Mineirão in Belo Horizonte. Team captain and defender Thiago Silva too will miss the game. Silva may come back on the pitch if Brazil play in the final (July 13) or the match for third place (July 12), but Neymar is out for at least six weeks.

The player suffered the injury after a nasty tackle from behind by Colombian defender Zuñiga, with just two minutes to go plus injury time before the final whistle. He came out on a stretcher and was taken by ambulance to St. Charles hospital in Fortaleza, where he underwent tests. “It`s an injury that limits motion. He will need to use a brace to immobilize the place," said the Brazilian team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar, discarding surgical procedure.

The Colombian player had denied that he hurt Neymar deliberately. "It was a normal move. I never meant to hurt a player," said the Colombian Zuñiga after his team lost the game. But the players of the Brazilian team mourned the injury to the striker, who is considered one of the leading stars of the World Cup. "I`m not believing it. It`s a shame," said goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

"Neymar is a hero of this tournament. It makes me sad. I am going to run further to give the title to Neymar," Hulk said. "Neymar is a guy who worked so hard. We saw his dedication in training. God will heal you ASAP. Neymar, we will work to please you," said Fred.

Neymar is the second top scorer of the World Cup with four goals along with Müller (Germany) and Messi (Argentina). The scorer of the competition is the Colombian James Rodriguez (6 goals). In the World Cup games, Neymar was voted the best player on the field in wins over Croatia and Cameroon.

Brazil will miss their main striker badly when they meet Germany on Tuesday. Germany are through to the World Cup semifinals after a 1-0 victory over France. The game`s only goal came inside a quarter of an hour, with a strangely subdued France failing to respond to early Mats Hummels` opener.

It took only 12 minutes for Hummels to head Toni Kroos` floated free-kick beyond Hugo Lloris, as Germany took full advantage of France`s lethargic start. Even after going behind Les Bleus lacked their usual intensity, and looked to sit deep and invite pressure rather than trying to win the ball back high up the field.

Les Bleus began to look a little more business-like and aggressive as the half wore on, though good form had deserted their striker Karim Benzema. With the interval approaching he latched onto Patrice Evra`s cross from the left, only to head it straight against defender Hummels. A couple of minutes later he broke free in the box, though his shot was tame and comfortably saved.

The game opened up with the start of the second period, with the lively Antoine Griezmann and Mathieu Valbuena both causing the German defence problems on the counter-attack. However, while they began to dominate the game out wide, their deliveries into the box were inconsistent and off-target, and easily cleared by the defence from danger.
With just 15 minutes remaining in the regulation time, the French had an outstanding chance to level the scores, though Benzema was denied by German goalie Neuer from point-blank range. Moments later the ball fell for Blaise Matuidi in the box, though his shot was parried from a tight angle.

With Les Bleus desperately pushing for an equaliser, Germany had a great chance on the counter. With 10 minutes remaining a delivery from the left fell to an unmarked Schürrle, though his poor shot was stopped by the flailing legs of Lloris.

With the French out and going home, one more European team has bowed out. But the semi-final is likely to be a Europe versus South America affair. As Brazil-Germany line up is already clear, and Holland and Argentina likely to qualify for the next stage, some mouth-watering football is in store.

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