NeymarGetty Images

Brazilian superstar and the country's main hope Neymar has been ruled out of the World Cup with a broken vertebra. It is a devastating blow for the Selecao ahead of their semi-final showdown against the Germans in three days' time.

The injury happened three minutes from time in their game against Colombia when Juan Zuniga's knee landed on Neymar's back. He was immediately stretchered off and taken to hospital.

Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari feels that it was inevitable that this would happen as Neymar has been targeted by defenders from the start of the competition. The coach, who spoke ahead of the doctor's diagnosis, was optimistic about his chances of featuring again.

"Neymar was going to be hunted. For three matches that has been happening," Scolari said.

"He has been sent to a private clinic with the doctor because he was kneed in his lower back. He was crying in pain. It won't be easy for him to recover based on the fact that it's a back injury and with the pain he's in. Let's hope everything goes OK."

"It might be that he could play in the final but at this moment, the next match is on July 8, I don't think it is likely he can do it. But he is young, he has energy, he leads his life the right way and does all the right things. Let's wait for the examination and see if there is something in the next 48 hours that can be done. In my opinion it's going to be difficult," the former Chelsea boss added.

However, after the diagnosis Brazil's team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar confirmed that the Barcelona forward's World Cup was certainly over and the recovery period could take anywhere between four to six weeks.

"This news is not easy but he will not be available for the rest of the World Cup. Neymar has a broken vertebra. He will be out for four to six weeks," Lasmar explained.

"It's not serious in the sense that it doesn't need surgery, but he'll need to immobilise it to recover, unfortunately, he's not going to be able to play."

Meanwhile, Zuniga, the player involved in the tackle, has defended the move saying he had no intention of hurting the player.

"It was a normal move. I never meant to hurt a player. I was on the field, playing for the shirt from my country, not with the intent to injure. I was just defending my shirt," Zuniga said.

Brazil will now be severely weakened for their clash against Germany. Apart from Neymar being ruled out, captain Thiago Silva was suspended after picking up his second booking of the competition.