Wow. A result that nobody saw coming, and a result that will live for a very long time in the consciousness of Brazilian football. As good as Germany were, and they were very good, it is the impact on the defeated that will be history making.
The word surreal is overused in sports writing, but it is the only way to describe that passage of six minutes midway through the first half when Germany walked in four goals through a bunch of bewildered people in yellow. And this wasn’t some exercise of blowing out the scoreline in the dying moments of the match against tiring opponents, this was in the first half hour.
In the build-up to this tournament we have been reminded of how Brazil, despite all their successes on the world stage, have not fully recovered from losing the 1950 final at home to Uruguay. This was meant to be redemption for that. Well that went massively off-script.
A truly great World Cup has at least one match that people will talk about for years to come. In 1970 there was the Italy v West Germany semi final decided 4-3 in Extra Time, followed by Brazil’s masterclass in the final. 1982 had that punch and counter-punch game between Italy and Brazil, and the violence of the West Germany v France semi. Matches like that lift a very good tournament to being talked about as one of the greats.
This tournament got in early with the Dutch ripping the defending champs apart. Since then there have been several gripping matches with the drama of the Belgium USA clash in the Round of 16 probably being the standout. This took it to a whole new level.
Silva was missed, but if you go kicking the ball out of a goal keeper’s hands you deserve no pity. Fred was dreadful, but then he had been dreadful all tournament; it is hard to buy the theory that he was the best on offer. As for David Luiz; what a bizarre, skittery, rabbit in the headlights performance that was. 50 million quid doesn’t buy you much these days.
But to lay the blame at the feet of specific players misses the point. This was a side who had fallen for its own hype; the team turning up in “Força Neymar” baseball caps for example, and been very fortunate to get as far as they did.
And karma said that today would be the day that everything clicked for the Germans. Confirming all the cultural stereotypes, they were never going to loosen the grip.
On the bright side, we can only hope that Brazil will do the navel gazing in a positive spirit and realise that they should never again rock up to a tournament with cynicism as their main weapon. And next year in New Zealand we get to see the new crop of players in the FIFA Under 20 tournament. Please Brazil; make that a Back to the Future side.