El World Cup Diario, Day 24: Starring Luiz Felipe Scolari as Captain Benjamin Franklin 'Hawkeye' Pierce

As Brazil's great hope flies off into the sunset, James Maw tells the story of Day 24 of the World Cup...

El Diario can certainly empathise with poor old Neymar, having suffered from the occasional bout of back pain down the years.

Sure, the Brazilian boy-wonder's spinal knack wasn't caused by a shoddy mattress or falling asleep on a bench in some nondescript French coastal town, but still...

We learned in the early hours of Saturday that Brazil's No.10 will miss the remainder of the tournament. The injury was a massively cruel blow to the hosts, who finally looked to have found their swagger against Colombia - for 45 minutes, at least.

This World Cup being utterly bonkers, even the Barcelona forward's departure from the stadium was box office. Our stricken hero was bundled into a waiting helicopter on a gurney like something from a tear-jerking M*A*S*H season finale. Sadly, there didn't seem to be footage of Phil 'Hawkeye' Scolari spitting some witty barbs about the futility of this darn war... sorry, World Cup.

The best accompaniment to this image is the end theme from M*A*S*H. It's probably on YouTube. Enjoy.

The best accompaniment to this image is the end theme from M*A*S*H. It's probably on YouTube. Enjoy.

But Neymar may not be the only South American superstar whose tournament is over. Argentina's Angel di Maria suffered a thigh injury in Saturday's 1-0 win over Belgium, and is now reported to be a doubt for not only the Albiceleste's semi-final against [SPOILER ALERT] the Netherlands, but also the final or third place play-off next weekend.

Despite the narrow score-line, Argentina were generally comfortable once they'd taken an earlyish lead through Gonzalo Higuain, and largely kept Belgium at arm's length - bar the token late onslaught.

In truth, the Netherlands were probably even more dominant in their quarter-final against the perennially-patronised Costa Rica. The game was goalless after 120 minutes, despite Van Persie, Sneijder, Robben and friends all taking pot-shots at Keylor Navas' goal. The Levante stopper played another blinder, although he was unable to save any of the four Dutch penalties in the ensuing shootout.

How to lose friends and save penalties

Navas would've done well to mimic Tim Krul's act-like-a-berk-for-as-long-as-possible technique, which seemed to gnaw into the minds of Costa Rica's spot-kick takers.

The Newcastle keeper was thrown on by Louis van Gaal in the 120th minute, with Manchester United's manager-in-waiting presumably believing the permanently terrified-looking Jasper Cillessen wouldn't have been much cop in a pressure situation.

Krul responded by fronting up to the opposition, pointing at his face for no good reason, and just generally being unnecessarily abrasive. It seemed to work, though, so maybe he's on to something.

The Dutch keeper's heroics did, however, deny us the chance of seeing Ron Vlaar take a spot-kick. The Aston Villa defender was seemingly next in line to take the long walk, and would almost certainly have done something hilarious.

It's just not (a) cricket

El Diario is concerned that the ungodly beast which landed on Colombia's Hamez Rodreegez during Friday's match with Brazil is still seemingly at large. We are willing to pay a handsome reward to anyone who finds and kills the acclaimed arthropod using a rolled-up copy of the Daily Mail (OK, maybe not kill, but at least put in a Tupperware box with a few air-holes punched in the lid).


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