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Brazil's Neymar feared paralysis when injured

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Neymar couldn't feel his legs right after injury, Brazil coach says
Argentina to be without the injured Angel Di Maria against the Netherlands
U.S. official to work World Cup semifinal game

Moments after the rough tackle that knocked him out of the World Cup, Brazilian striker Neymar feared he had been paralyzed, Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said.

Speaking to the Spanish sports journal Marca, Scolari said teammate Marcelo was the first to reach Neymar after he went down.

"[He] asked him how he was feeling and he told him: 'I can't feel my legs,'" Scolari was quoted as saying in the story, which was posted online Sunday.

Marcelo immediately began waving for a trainer. Neymar was transported to a hospital where he was found to have a fractured vertebra. Doctors expect him to make a full recovery after four to six weeks of rest, meaning he will be sidelined well beyond Brazil's World Cup semifinal with Germany on Tuesday.

Neymar was injured in the waning moments of Brazil's foul-marred quarterfinal victory over Colombia on Friday. With Neymar going for a loose ball, defender Juan Zuniga leapt into him, kneeing the Brazilian star in the small of the back and knocking him to the ground.

FIFA, the world governing body for soccer and organizer of the World Cup, said over the weekend it is looking into the play to see whether disciplinary measures are warranted. Zuniga said he didn't mean to injure Neymar.

Besides Neymar, Brazil also will be without Thiago Silva, the team's captain, who will sit out after drawing a second yellow card against Colombia. The Brazilians said Sunday they have appealed Silva's second caution, which he earned for trying to block a free kick by David Ospina.

"It's equivalent to a catastrophe. Neymar is a player that would make the difference in any team," Scolari told reporters. "We have lost the one player we did not want to lose. And it's for the semifinal and final."

Chelsea midfielder Willian, one of the options Scolari was expected to turn to in an effort to make up for the lost of Neymar, suffered a back injury in training Sunday. But he said he will be available Tuesday.

The Brazilian federation confirmed that a team psychologist, who counseled the players after their round-of-16 victory over Chile, would visit with the team again before Tuesday's game.

Angel Di Maria is out, Sergio Aguero is in for Argentina

Argentina also will be without a big weapon in its semifinal game with the Netherlands on Wednesday after midfielder Angel Di Maria was ruled out because of a first-degree strain to a muscle in the back of his right thigh.

Di Maria left Argentina's quarterfinal victory over Belgium in the 33rd minute after setting up the game's only goal. He scored the extra-time game winner against Switzerland in the round of 16.

But the South Americans got some good news when Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, who had been sidelined because of a similar thigh problem, was cleared to return.

U.S. official Mark Geiger to work semifinal game

A hybrid crew of Mexican and U.S. referees were selected to work Tuesday's Germany-Brazil semifinal game.

Mexico's Marco Rodriguez, perhaps best known in this tournament for having missed Luis Suarez's bite of defender Giorgio Chiellini in the Uruguay-Italy game, will be the center referee for the game in Belo Horizonte.

He'll be assisted by Mexicans Marvin Torrentera and Marcos Quintero. Mark Geiger of New Jersey will be the fourth official with his regular assistant, Sean Hurd of Florida, serving as the reserve assistant.

The game will mark only the second time a U.S. official has worked a World Cup semifinal game. Brian Hall of Northern California was the fourth official in Brazil's 1-0 victory over Turkey in 2002.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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