Brazil has built its campaign to lift a historic sixth World Cup on home soil for the first time around one man: Neymar. And so far, the 22-year-old striker has not disappointed, scoring four goals in five matches and helping guide his team to the semifinals.
But the Brazilian soccer nation was sent into a state of shock Friday, as a crunching tackle from Juan Camilo Zuniga late in Brazil's 2-1 win over Colombia resulted in Neymar suffering a broken vertebrae. Thankfully, the injury is not too serious and the striker should recover in four to six weeks without needing surgery.
[Photos: Neymar's World Cup exit in the headlines]
However the injury has ruled Neymar out for the rest of the tournament and thrown Brazil's World Cup hopes into limbo.
Celebrities, soccer players and politicians took to social media to express their support for the fallen hero. Newspaper headlines and fans meanwhile, mostly expressed a mixture of shock, agony, and cautious optimism, as Brazil prepared to head into a semifinal clash against an in-form German team without their attacking talisman.