Well, I had been planning to do a quick final and 3rd place playoff preview in time for the weekend. But I couldn’t let this incredible result go by without some more detailed thought on it.
For one, I am very pleased Brazil are out. Scolari’s side have played with a cynicism and misplaced arrogance that few Brazilian teams have demonstrated previously. The stereotypical “samba” stylings have been replaced with functionality and an over reliance on Neymar. This cynicism was particularly displayed in the 2-1 quarter final win over Colombia. In that match, Fernandinho was given a mission to kick James Rodriguez into ineffectiveness, a task he largely succeeded in. The refereeing in that game, and throughout the tournament, had erred on the side of lenient towards Brazil and allowed that cynicism and malice to shine through.
Their overwrought and overplayed emotional state has also caused me to take against them, and that state was somewhat responsible for their hammering last night. Tears before and after the penalty shoot out against Chile; tears during the now cliched a capella second verse of the national anthem- these have given the impression of a side more interested in their emotions and their “narrative” than actually playing the game. This mawkish approach was particularly exemplified during last night’s rendition of the Brazilian national anthem, as the absent Neymar’s shirt was held aloft between David Luiz and Julio Cesar. Never mind that Neymar’s injury was ultimately a by-product of his own side’s cynicism against Colombia – Brazil saw themselves as victims in this instance and wanted to make the most of it. That this was probably David Luiz’s most positive contribution to the match tells its own story.
Until the first goal was scored, the game had been reasonably even with both sides looking dangerous on the attack. That first goal was arguably the worst and certainly the simplest of the seven Brazil conceded – a corner which found Thomas Müller completely unmarked at the back stick to side foot home. Luiz, who was ostensibly marking Müller, threw his arms down at his side in a slight tantrum.
From that moment on, it was clear that Neymar would not be the big miss for Brazil. Rather, it would be Thiago Silva, their captain and Luiz’s central defensive partner. What was obvious as the second, third, fourth and fifth goals were clinically knocked past Julio Cesar in that crazy 6-minute spell was that without Silva, Brazil’s back four and their two defensive midfielders might as well have not bothered turning up, given their abject positioning and continually being caught in possession, ncluding for the goals. It says a lot about this Brazil team that lacking one, admittedly exemplary, defender’s discipline and organisational skills turns their defensive unit to something as useful as mulch.
One man is exempt from that criticism, even as goals six and seven were Schürrle-d past him. Julio Cesar was arguably a bit at fault for Klose’s goal (Germany’s second), palming the ageing forward’s shot back to him, but he otherwise kept the score from being utterly comical and cut a relatively lucid figure while all around him were depositing their heads a reasonable distance away. Cesar is a fine keeper who deserved a better sign-off from his long international career than what he got.
My Brazil diatribe is not to take anything away from the Germans, however. They were utterly clinical, played some beautiful counter attacking, passing football and completely owned the midfield. Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira were particularly excellent, while Schürrle looked a different player from the man who could be rather passive in a Chelsea shirt last season.
Brazil 1-7 Germany. I still can’t quite comprehend that scoreline. Just to demonstrate how bad it was, only Haiti and Zaire have previously been 5 down in a World Cup finals match at half-time. It equalled Brazil’s record defeat (a 6-0 reverse against Uruguay in 1920), and was their first competitive defeat on home soil since 1975. Having enjoyed Brazil’s performances in most of 1994, 1998 and 2002, while understanding that those sides were rather more functional than the 1982 vintage I could see on YouTube, I was glad that this poor excuse for a selecao had been so ruthlessly dispatched.
As for tonight, if the Argentina v Netherlands match gets anywhere near the excitement and uniqueness of last night’s game, I will be delighted. And rather surprised.