‘Six minute shambles’: Germany dashed Brazil’s dreams in humiliating first-half span
BELO HORIZONTE // Brazil’s players collapsed, overcome by emotion. Yet this was not the full-time whistle at the end of their discomfiting 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat to Germany. This was midway through the first half, a half in which they conceded five goals without managing one shot on target.
In the space of six first-half minutes, Brazil conceded four goals. Put another way, goalkeeper Julio Cesar had to pick the ball out of his net, on average, every 90 seconds for six straight minutes. A nation’s dreams were destroyed in less time than it takes to boil an egg.
The Brazilian coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, said his side had “blacked out”. His counterpart, Joachim Loew, said his players realised their opponents were “cracking up” and capitalised. Germany’s relentless attacking was as unapologetic and ruthless as the World Cup has ever seen. Brazil had dreamt of a sixth title, instead they suffered a six-minute shambles.
From the 23rd minute to the 29th minute of this humiliation, Scolari’s team, without the defensive presence of their suspended captain Thiago Silva, fell to pieces. Thomas Muller had opened the scoring in the 11th minute, but it was Miroslav Klose who sparked the rout.
Klose’s goal was his 16th at a World Cup finals and resulted in him usurping Brazil’s own Ronaldo as the tournament’s all-time leading scorer. Brazil’s defenders were still apologising to their countrymen in the stands when Toni Kroos fired in twice moments later, and by the time Sami Khedira added Germany’s fifth, the stadium was enveloped in a mixture of shocked silence and angry disbelief.
It was as grand a capitulation as has been witnessed at a World Cup and it will live long in the memory of Brazilians, Germans and everybody who has even a fleeting interest in football. It was historic and, for a country with such a storied football history, it was painful to watch.
The last time Brazil hosted the World Cup, in 1950, they were beaten 2-1 by an unfancied Uruguay side in a match still spoken of today as the Maracanazo, or the big upset at the Maracana. At the Estadio Mineirao 64 years later, the ghost has been exorcised, but replaced by a far more haunting spectre: the Mineirazo.
As one Brazilian journalist put it last night: “This makes what happened against Uruguay appear more like a Maracanazinho”, or merely a little upset at the Maracana.
Inquests will take place into why Scolari opted for the line-up that he did, why he did not try to rectify things when his team were shipping goals like water through a net, why Kroos was allowed to float around the final third untroubled. Yet the truth is probably a lot less complicated.
Brazil appeared, for six minutes at least, to be unable to cope with the reality that their dream was disappearing in front of their eyes. The players looked at each other helplessly, struggling to comprehend what was happening, wishing they could wake up from a nightmare.
Make no mistake, if World Cups could be won with patriotism, Brazil would have sewn up their sixth title at the opening match on June 12. No other team can match the pride and passion we have witnessed in the stands these past few weeks. Scolari’s side rode that wave of emotion and national pride all the way to the semi-finals and in that there should be no shame.
But emotion can cripple athletes also, ridding them of their composure and level-headedness, forcing them to make decisions they would not normally make. Brazil, for all their desires and dreams, fell victim to this. The pressure was too much, their dream extinguished in the space of six first-half minutes.
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Published: July 9, 2014 04:00 AM