Neymar received hugs and well-wishes when he rejoined his teammates at the Forteleza airport after his trip to the hospital with a fractured vertebra that will end his World Cup. Neymar suffered the injury in Brazil's 2-1 quarterfinal win over Colombia as a result of taking a knee to the back from Juan Camilo Zuniga late in the second half.
According to the Brazilian confederation, his injury will take four weeks to heal, but will not require surgery. A large number of fans congregated outside the hospital where he was treated, but according to the AP, Neymar flew back to Rio with his teammates before riding in an ambulance the rest of the way to Brazil's base camp. Once there, he was taken by medical helicopter to his home in Sao Paulo to begin his recovery.
While Brazilian TV showed the scans of the nation's greatest footballing star and the papers devoted bigger headlines to mourning his injury than celebrating the win and a place in the semifinals against Germany, FIFA announced that an investigation into the challenge that injured Neymar will be carried out.
Now on TV in Brazil: an in-depth analysis of Neymar's injury complete with doctor expert and X-ray pic.twitter.com/XHjngCnoRk— Joe Lago (@joelago) July 5, 2014
Referee Carlos Velasco Carballo has been criticized along with Zuniga for letting the match get out of hand. There were a total of 54 fouls — 31 from Brazil — but only two yellow cards for each side. One of those bookings will keep Brazil captain Thiago Silva out of the semifinals due to yellow card accumulation, though.
From the AP:
''Everybody knew that Neymar would be hunted,'' Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said after the game. ''It's been happening in the last three matches and we had been talking about it. But nobody listens to us.''
The spotlight was on the 22-year-old from the start, as he was tasked with leading Brazil to its first World Cup title since 2002 and first won on home soil ever, as the nation struggles to overcome the bitter loss of 1950. He responded to this pressure convincingly, leading the team with four goals and coming up big when he was needed. For Brazil, to be without both Neymar and Thiago Silva for the semifinal against Germany is an unthinkable worst-case scenario that has now become the team's reality.
And to prove just how horrible this situation is, even Argentina fans are wishing Neymar well.
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