If Brazil is to lift the World Cup trophy on home soil, it will have to do so without its centerpiece.
Neymar is out for the World Cup with a fractured vertebra
, which he suffered in the final minutes of Brazil's 2-1 quarterfinal win over Colombia on Friday. Brazil team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar confirmed to reporters at Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza that the early prognosis is that Neymar will need 2-to-3 weeks to recover.
The injury occurred as Neymar took a knee to the back from Camilo Zuniga and went down in pain immediately, with Brazil nursing a one-goal advantage. He had to be stretchered off of the field in the 88th minute, with his hand over his eyes, as his teammates finished off the victory. Neymar, 22, entered the competition with massive expectations to lead his country, and he had done just that. He is Brazil's leading scorer at the World Cup with four goals.
His absence won't be the only one Brazil must overcome against Germany in the semifinals, either. Center back and captain Thiago Silva is suspended for the game on yellow card accumulation, picking up his second of the tournament for interfering with Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina on a restart attempt. Silva's goal opened the scoring for Brazil, which prevailed on the strength of that and David Luiz's free kick goal from long range.
Neymar's absence: What it means for Brazil and the World Cup
Grant Wahl explains the massive void that Neymar's injury has left in the team and the country as a whole.