Wednesday, July 09, 2014

2014 World Cup: German brilliance shatters Brazil

Any team shipping seven goals in a World Cup is unusual.

Brazil shipping seven goals in a World Cup semi final?

In Brazil?

Astonishing, shocking, unbelievable. But real. A dream destroyed in Belo Horizonte as the world watched.

We knew this Brazilian team had its limitations. Limitations that made this an unfortunate Seleção vintage with which to hunt down the ghosts of the 1950 World Cup final.

And we knew that this was a richly talented Germany.

We couldn't have imagined that Brazil's deficiencies would be so ruthlessly exposed, that Germany's superiority would be so utterly complete.

Thomas Müller being left unmarked for the opening goal seemed to amplify Brazil's failings and fortify Germany's superiority. A perfect storm stirring up the almighty mismatch that followed.

A record semi final defeat. A record defeat for a host nation at the World Cup. A record defeat for Brazil. A first competitive defeat at home since 1975.

Because this is Brazil, because this is Brazil's World Cup, it's inevitable that even in defeat they remain central to the narrative.

We shouldn't let that detract from Germany's achievement. They saw weakness and set about dismantling the most successful national team in history.

They did it brilliantly, thrillingly. 7-1. And it could have been more.

It's Joachim Löw who takes his side into Sunday night's final. At 7-0 I felt his main challenge might be getting his players to forget the semi final and focus on Sunday evening. Then Brazil scored and the German players raged at themselves for conceding.

This is a team determined to meet its own high standards. The goal, maybe the most futile ever scored in a World Cup finals, robbed them of the perfect performance and that was, however briefly, intolerable for them.

And what now for Brazil? First, the huge anti-climax of Saturday's third place play-off.

And then the inquests, inquiries, recriminations, blame and villains.

A country that pimped itself out to Sepp Blatter's FIFA for the chance to announce its arrival as a global power. Let down by the very export that sustained its global profile for decades before its economic emergence.

It will be interesting to see if anti-World Cup protests gather pace in the next few days. Interesting too to see how a country that doesn't do footballing humiliation raises itself for the Olympics in two years. Brazil's politicians got what they wanted - the world came to Brazil.

The football team being found wanting in such staggering style was never part of the plan. Spending $11 billion has been an expensive way to find out that their footballing powers have, for now, deserted them.

Modern football's marketing machine demands that we treat almost every game, every goal, every transfer, every bite as an incident of historical significance.

That is, of course, bollocks. But last night felt like it could have been football's first "I remember where I was..." moment of the internet age. The sort of game, the sort of result, that will be passed down the generations.

Like Real Madrid at Hampden in 1960. Like Brazil's win over Italy in the 1970 World Cup final.

And like Uruguay's win over Brazil in the 1950 World Cup final.

Brazil set out to right the wrongs of 64 years of hurt. They ended up as little more than helpless incompetents as Germany wrote another chapter of football history.

And finally...


A fantastic quirk of scheduling on BBC 2 England after the game:

World Cup TV listing, the Scottish Football Blog