Neymar’s Back Injury Drops Brazil From Favorite to Underdog

The back injury that cost Neymar the rest of the World Cup has made Brazil a slight underdog against Germany in today’s semifinal, according to projections by Bloomberg Sports.

Neymar, the 22-year-old Barcelona forward who had scored four goals in four Brazil games to open the month-long tournament, fractured a vertebrae with five minutes remaining in Brazil’s 2-1 quarterfinal win over Colombia three days ago.

Projections for the Brazil-Germany match created prior to knowing whether Neymar would play gave Brazil a 56.1 percent chance of advancing to the World Cup final against either Argentina or the Netherlands. After he was ruled out that percentage dropped to 49.2.

Brazil now has a 26.7 percent chance of winning its record sixth World Cup. Argentina is the favorite at 30.01 percent, followed by Germany at 27.99 percent, while the Netherlands has a 15.27 percent chance. Brazil would have had a 34.2 percent chance of taking the title had Neymar not been injured.

The Bloomberg Sports projections are based on criteria such as Brazil’s win over Colombia, players’ scoring and defensive abilities, injuries, squad selections and managers. The initial semifinal projections included the absence of Brazil captain Thiago Silva, who was banned after receiving his second yellow card of the tournament while playing Colombia.

Zuniga’s Apology

Neymar was carried from the field on a stretcher after being struck in the back by Colombia’s Juan Zuniga as they challenged for a ball. Zuniga apologized for the injury and denied that he’d tried to hurt Neymar, saying he was only “defending my shirt.”

“We need to have the maturity to overcome such a blow,” Brazilian defender David Luiz told reporters after the game. “We know how he’s prepared and dreamed to shine with a title. We need to talk, go support him and get this title.”

The Las Vegas Hotel’s SuperBook moved odds on Brazil to win the World Cup to 2-1 from 7-4 because of the Neymar injury, meaning a $100 bet on the host country capturing the championship will net $200. It would have netted $175 had Neymar remained healthy.

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