Anadolu Agency

RIO DE JANEIRO – Police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets at anti-World Cup protesters who clashed violently with riot police at a rally near the Maracanã stadium in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, as the tournament final between Germany and Argentina was about to kick off.

As well as voicing anger over World Cup spending by the government, protesters also demanded an end to what they see as police repression and denounced the preemptive arrests of 37 protesters ahead of the rally.

The rally was held 1.2km from the stadium, and a mixture of military, riot and mounted police forces heavily outnumbered the 300 protesters present, some of whom identified themselves as from the anarchic “Black Bloc” movement.

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Anadolu Agency – additional reporting by Lucy Jordan in Brasília

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s 2014 World Cup campaign came to a bitterly disappointing end on Saturday as the Netherlands put three goals past the home team to win a playoff for third place – giving the hosts a second consecutive defeat and leaving them fourth overall in the competition.

Hopes had not been high as the historic five-time champions went head-to-head with a skilful Dutch side, which have never won a World Cup.

The 3-0 defeat to the Dutch at the Mané Garrincha stadium in the Brazilian capital, Brasília, was not on the scale of their worst-ever 7-1 semifinal loss against Germany, but after all the excitement of hosting the tournament for the first time in 64 years, Saturday’s result means that this is be a World Cup that Brazilians will want to consign to the history books.

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Anadolu Agency

SAO PAULO (AA) – Brazil’s World Cup “golden boy” and rising star, Neymar, has again been ruled out of Tuesday’s crunch semifinal World Cup clash against Germany and the rest of the tournament, local media quoted his medical team as saying on Monday.

Hopes were raised after Neymar announced that he still wanted to play in a potential final match in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã stadium Sunday.

But doctors say his third vertebra – fractured when Colombia’s Juan Camilo Zúñiga kneed the Brazilian forward in the back during Friday’s quarterfinal game – needs at least six weeks’ rest.

Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has been putting three members of the national team to the test – Willian, Paulinho and Bernard – all vying for Neymar’s spot, local media reported on Monday from the team’s training ground north of Rio de Janeiro.

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Video by Cedar Attanasio; produced/translated by Ben Tavener

SÃO PAULO – Just hours after Brazil secured its place in the World Cup semifinals the news broke that the country’s golden boy, Neymar Jr, who had been stretchered off during the quarterfinal clash against Colombia, had fractured a vertebra and would miss the rest of the tournament.

We asked Brazilian fans on Avenida Paulista how they thought their team had fared, and what the country would do without its rising star on the pitch.

See photos and video from the São Paulo Fan Fest during the quarterfinal clash