Years from now, when we think back to the most stunning games we’ve ever seen, we’ll remember this night right near the top of the list:
Germany 7, Brazil 1. On Brazilian soil. In the World Cup semifinals.
Brazil hadn’t lost an official (non-friendly) game at home since 1975. Now that’s over. Never before in a World Cup had a team scored four goals in a six-minute span, as Germany did midway through the first half, and never had one scored five goals in the first 29 minutes of a game. As the numbers entered the silly zone so early in a game that meant so much, the moment left you speechless.
Here are three quick thoughts on the game:
• This was an overall Brazil team failure
Yes, Brazil’s two best players, Neymar and Thiago Silva, were missing from this game due to injury and suspension, respectively, but that shouldn’t have made this much of a difference. As some had suspected before the game, the bigger loss ended up being Silva, the stout center back and team captain whose leadership and ability were sorely missed.
Thomas Müller scored the opening goal just 11 minutes in with alarming ease as he escaped David Luiz to be unmarked in the box on a corner kick. Then the floodgates opened from minutes 23 to 29, when four more German goals flew in as though it was a video game. Germany’s pressure was relentless, and the Brazilian defenders simply weren’t up to the task. It was as if something deep inside them shut down.
They will deconstruct this loss for decades here in Brazil, and while the tactical element will be there, the breakdowns that happened against Germany appeared to be more mental than anything else.
• You can’t overstate how outstanding Germany was
The story that will resonate in the years ahead from tonight will be about Brazil and the way it collapsed on home soil in a manner similar to the notorious loss to Uruguay in the 1950 final game, but Germany’s performance was just about the closest thing to a perfect soccer game you’ll ever see.
At a level this high, when the stakes are so large, you don’t see things like this. The Germans were better than Brazil in every aspect of the game. Defending, passing, winning balls, creating chances. And when Germany saw an advantage it didn’t hesitate to exploit it again and again and again.
There was a reason the crowd in Belo Horizonte gave Germany the rarest of honors: A standing ovation from an opposing crowd. So remarkable was the result that it almost seemed a footnote that Miroslav Klose scored the 16th World Cup goal of his career to break Brazil icon Ronaldo’s all-time World Cup record. A classy Ronaldo congratulated Klose on the Globo television broadcast.
• What comes next for Brazil?
Well, the host team will have to do the last thing it wants to do: Play in the third-place game on Saturday in Brasília.
But as you’d expect, a 7-1 Brazil loss in a home semifinal will have an impact that transcends the soccer field. There was only one acceptable result from this World Cup for Brazil fans, and that was to win the whole tournament and celebrate Brazil’s sixth World Cup title. Now that Brazil is out, will Brazilians return their focus to the anger and protests that dominated the country a year ago over public spending on this World Cup? Will these Brazilian players have their lives defined by not winning a World Cup on home soil?
And is there any chance the people of this soccer-mad country will put an asterisk on the elimination due to the Neymar injury that has had Brazilians on emotional overload? It would have been bad enough if Brazil had gone out in a tight game in the semifinals. But to lose 7-1? The mind reels.