FORTALEZA, Brazil — Not long after celebrating another all-important win at the World Cup, Brazil was jolted by the loss of Neymar.
The tournament's poster boy with the dyed-blonde fauxhawk fractured a vertebra in his back during Brazil's 2-1 quarterfinal victory over Colombia on Friday. The injury has ruled the striker out of the rest of the competition, dealing a massive blow to the team's chances of finally winning a World Cup at home.
Brazil advanced to the semifinals for the first time in 12 years, with the goals coming from defenders Thiago Silva and David Luiz. But the jubilation was quickly tempered when Brazil team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said Neymar broke his third vertebra and is expected to be out for several weeks, ruling him out of Tuesday's semifinal match against Germany in Belo Horizonte.
"It's a situation that leaves us in a difficult position for the match against Germany," Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. "But we have great players and if I have to change something I will do it and we will be OK."
The 22-year-old Neymar has been the focal point of both the Brazilian team and the entire World Cup, and he lived up to expectations with four goals in the first three matches.
But he took a knee to the back late in the match against Colombia at the Arena Castelao in a collision with Juan Camilo Zuniga. The Brazilian star was crying in pain as he was carried off the field, and was taken to a private clinic. He has since been released.
"He will not be in condition to play, he will need a few weeks to be fit again," said Lasmar, the team doctor. "He is very, very sad."
The foul on Neymar came toward the end of one of the dirtiest games of the tournament as Brazil committed 31 fouls and Colombia had 23.
Brazil will also be without Silva for Tuesday's match against Germany. The captain must sit out after getting his second yellow card of the tournament after impeding Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina.
Brazil, which is trying to become the first host to win the World Cup since France in 1998, had been eliminated in the quarterfinals at the last two tournaments. The "Selecao" lost to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals in 2010 and to France in 2006 after winning its fifth title in 2002.
Back in 1950, Brazil needed only a draw in the final match to win the World Cup, but the team lost to Uruguay in a match known as the "Maracanazo."
This time around, Brazil won its group and then beat Chile on penalties in the second round.
Germany 1, France 0
At Rio de Janeiro, Germany relied on its big-game experience to hold off France, with Mats Hummels' first-half header securing the German team a spot in the semifinals for the fourth straight World Cup.
The center back settled a cagey match in muggy conditions at Maracana Stadium with his 13th-minute goal, outmuscling his marker at a free kick to glance a header in off the underside of the crossbar.
Criticized for its poor defending in earlier matches, Germany selected a more robust team, tightened up at the back and restricted a flat-looking France team to only a handful of clear-cut opportunities.
While the French exited with a whimper, Germany can look forward to a match against Brazil.
"There was not much in it," said France coach Didier Deschamps, whose young and revamped side hadn't been expected to advance further than the last eight. "We don't have the international experience Germany has."
France was not given many chances to impose the kind of attacking game that made Les Bleus one of the most exciting lineups in Brazil during the group stage, although Karim Benzema could have sent the game into extra time with an opportunity in stoppage time. Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer swatted the angled shot away.
"We played like a team again," said Germany captain Philipp Lahm, who was returned to right back in one of a string of tactically astute changes made by coachJoachim Loew. "Overall it was a good performance from us. It wasn't easy today."