Neymar ruled out of World Cup due to fractured vertebra

Juan Zuniga drilled Neymar in the back. (Getty Images)

Brazilian star Neymar has been ruled out of the World Cup after being diagnosed with a fractured vertebra.

The striker took a knee to the back from Colombian defender Juan Zuniga in the 86th minute of Friday's quarterfinal win over Colombia

According to ESPN, team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar told Brazilian TV Bendeirantes that Neymar broke the third vertebra in the lumbar region of his back.

"It is a benign fracture," said Lasmar. "This news is not easy, but he will not be available at this World Cup.

"The fracture does not require surgery. There will be a conservative treatment; [he] needs comfort to ease the pain."

Following the game,  Brazil manager Felipe Scolari indicated strong doubts that Neymar would be fit for the team's semifinal game vs. Germany on Tuesday. "It will be very difficult for Neymar to play," Scolari said.

Neymar lay flat on his stomach after the challenge from Zuniga, and he was eventually rolled onto his back and carried off on a stretcher appearing to be suffering severe pain. He was taken to a private clinic, according to the AP. 

Neymar hadn't had a particularly strong impact on the quarterfinal match, but the game deteriorated as the referees continued to make arbitrary and inconsistent foul calls. In total, 54 fouls were called in the match, and the referees were extremely reluctant to show players yellow cards. That may have lead to the reckless challenge from Zuniga. 

With Neymar out, the team's primary striker would be Hulk, although he's benefitted immensely with so much attention being paid to the young star, who'd scored four goals in the World Cup. 

Brazil will also be without captain and center back Thiago Silva for the semifinal against the Germans due to the yellow card he received on Friday, his second of the tournament.

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