Fortaleza: Neymar has been “hunted” throughout the World Cup, Brazil’s coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said on Friday as his star striker was ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a fractured vertebrae. Neymar was carried off in agony after a heavy challenge from Juan Zuniga towards the end of Brazil’s 2-1 quarter-final win over Colombia in Fortaleza.
Brazil's Neymar in the throes of pain during the World Cup quarter-final against Colombia in Fortaleza on Friday. Pic: AP/PTI.
Hospital tests showed that the 22-year-old had a fractured third vertebrae and would not play again in Brazil’s campaign. Brazil play Germany in the semi-final on Tuesday and will also be without captain Thiago Silva who is suspended.
“I have been saying for three matches that Neymar has been hunted, but all the other countries say it is not true and it is only their players that are hunted,” said Scolari.
Neymar waves from inside the helicopter transporting him home
Scolari fumed that Silva had been booked for impeding a clearance from Colombian ‘keeper David Ospina.
Brazil appeared to have had the game won when David Luiz’s free-kick doubled his side’s advantage midway through the second-half after Silva’s early opener. However, James Rodriguez’s penalty 10 minutes from time cut the deficit.
Who can replace Neymar for Brazil against Germany in the semi-final and possibly the final
Willian: The Chelsea winger is one of relatively few new faces in the squad from the side that won the Confederations Cup last year after an impressive first season in England.
His versatility to play on either wing or through the middle offers coach Luiz Felipe Scolari flexibility, but his ability to cope with the pressure that Neymar was under is questionable given he failed to even hit the target with his penalty in the agonising shootout win over Chile in the last 16.
Bernard: The tiny Shakhtar Donetsk man — he replaced Willian after he left for Chelsea — stands at just over 5ft 4inches tall and is just 21, but does have the pace and ability to go past defenders that Brazil will need in the absence of Neymar.
However, his participation in the tournament so far has been restricted to just two substitute appearances and he may be more adequately used as an impact player from the bench as legs tire later in the game.
Ramires: Another option with the intention of destroying rather than creating would be to use the energy of Chelsea’s Ramires on the wing to keep German captain Philipp Lahm’s forays forward in check.
It is a role the 27-year-old has carried out to decent effect in the latter stages of the Champions League in recent years, most notably when sparking a remarkable Chelsea comeback with a goal against Barcelona on their way to winning the trophy in 2012.
Luis Gustavo: Neymar’s loss could mean a complete tactical reshuffle for Scolari with Wolfsburg’s Gustavo almost certain to return to the side following his suspension against Colombia.
Scolari was quick to praise the work done by Fernandinho and Paulinho in Fortaleza and could line up all three in central midfield in an attempt to spoil Germany’s rhythm in midfield.