FORTALEZA, Brazil - Brazil lost superstar striker Neymar for the World Cup after he fractured a vertebrae during his side's 2-1 World Cup quarter-final win over Colombia.
Colombia defender Juan Zuniga kneed the 22-year-old Neymar in a crunching tackle and the Barcelona player was stretchered off in agony in the closing minutes of Friday's (Saturday AEST) game in Forteleza.
Team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar told reporters a hospital examination "showed (Neymar) suffered a fracture of the third vertebrae" in his back.
"He will not be in condition to play, he will need a few weeks to be fit again," Lasmar said. "He is very, very sad."
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari fumed that Neymar has been "hunted" throughout the tournament and that no punishment was given for the tackle on him.
"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."
Brazil teammate Hulk echoed the coach's comments saying Neymar should have received more protection from the referees.
"Every time is like this, players always come after Neymar, the referees need to do more to keep this from happening," Hulk said.
Neymar's injury added to the suspension of captain Thiago Silva for the semi-final against Germany.
Silva was booked for a second time in the tournament for impeding a clearance by Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina with Scolari angry that "Thiago got a yellow card for nothing."
Brazil is in the World Cup semi-finals for the first time in 12 years, but Scolari, who has vowed his side will win their sixth World Cup, now faces a major crisis.
"It's a situation that leaves us in a difficult position for the match against Germany," he said. "But we have great players and if I have to change something I will do it and we will be OK."
Neymar has been integral to Brazil's World Cup campaign so far, scoring four goals en route to the last four.