Poor Brazil. No sooner does its World Cup team beat Colombia, 2-1, to whisk away the clouds of concern that have hovered over a worried nation for weeks than another bank rolls in with the loss of star striker Neymar to a broken vertebra in his back.
The Brazilians' joy was mitigated by the loss of a key defender, captain Thiago Silva earning too many yellow cards, for the semifinals against Germany on Tuesday and the fulcrum of their attack for the rest of the tournament.
In a game interrupted by an outrageous 54 fouls, none was cheaper -- and dumber -- than Silva bumping into Colombia keeper David Ospina on a goal kick. Spanish referee Velasco Carballo, who had refrained from issuing yellow cards until the match began approximating a barroom brawl, had no choice but to book Silva.
Because of a yellow already on his record, Silva must sit out Tuesday. In soccer, some cards had been earned with rough stuff that halts an attack. Making contact with a keeper 100 yards away from danger is inexcusable. Silva can find small consolation in having scored the first goal by cleaning up a corner kick by Neymar and nudging it in, but his faux pas leaves Brazil in a bind against Germany's lethal set pieces.
Neymar, who began the day with tolerable thigh and knee injuries, absorbed the knee of Colombia's Juan Zuniga into his back in the waning minutes. The funky-haired forward was hauled off on a stretcher, then taken to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with a broken vertebra.
As much as Brazil will miss Silva, Neymar was its most valuable player. Brazil would have struggled with him against Germany, for whom a 1-0 lead seems good as gold. (France, a loser by that score, could have played until the start of fireworks shows across the U.S. and still not scratched a score.) Without him, as unimaginable as it seems, the purveyors of the beautiful game might play a bit ugly.