KEIR RADNEDGE in BELO HORIZONTE: Semi-final: Brazil 1, Germany 7
—- Brazil’s state President, Dilma Rousseff, has decided she will, after all, present the World Cup to the victors of football’s ultimate prize at the end of the final in Rio de Janeiro’s Estadio Maracana on Sunday. It won’t be to Brazil after the greatest humiliation in the history of the Selecao.
Rousseff had to make a decision at some point, for the sake of protocol and security, and presumably the Selecao‘s progress to this semi-final was the clincher. Too soon. Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari had said Brazil were “two steps from heaven.” Instead they ended up in football hell.
Back in 1950, after the famous (or infamous, depending on nationality) Maracanazao, it was ageing FIFA president Jules Rimet who handed over the trophy in the shocked chaos to Uruguay captain Abdulio Varela. At least then Brazil reached the final in a home World Cup. This time they did not even go that far. This adventure was ending at the semi-final stage in a rout. Not even South American opposition but against Europeans.
Thus Rousseff will make history as the first woman leader to present the World Cup and the first Brazilian (Eurico Gaspar Dutra was doubtless still recovering from the shock of defeat in 1950) but it will not be to Brazil.
This was only the second time Brazil and Germany had met in the World Cup. The previous meeting was the 2002 World Cup Final when Brazil’s coach was Luiz Felipe Scolari. Here he was again. One was a night to remember; this will be a night he will never forget.
Scolari had chosen local favourite Bernard to fill the attacking slot left vacant by the absence of injured Neymar; Bayern Munich’s Dante lined up in place of suspended captain Thiago Silva in the heart of defence. No such problems for Germany: they repeated the line-up who saw off France in the quarter-finals
Brazil, powered by the intensity of the crowd and their national anthem performance, rushed forward from the start. Marcelo sent the first shot flying wide and it was several minutes before the Germans claimed possession to try to calm their nerves.
Instead, ironically, the thunder of the atmosphere harmed Brazil the more. In the 10th minute Germay forced a right-wing corner, Bastian Schweinsteiger clipped it towards the far post and Thonas Muller stepped away from David Luiz to tuck the ball past keeper Julio Cesar.
Astoundingly, Germany then struck four more times in the next 20 minutes as Brazil’s defence collapsed into utter, humbling, humiliating capitulation. Miroslav Klose scored to break Ronaldo’s 15-goal World Cup record, Toni Kroos thundered home from the dge of the penalty box then scored from close range after some casual inter-passing with Sami Khedira who then scored himself with simplicity.
With half an hour on the clock, Brazil were dead and gone. They were booed off at half-time and booed back on at the start of the second.
Scolari clearly told his team they had to play for their pride and Paulinho and Ramires were brought on for Luiz Gustavo and Fernandinho to bring some discipline and order to the team.
Initially, at least, the changes had an effect. Brazil might have scored several times in the opening exchanges which saw Germany keeper Manuel Neuer at his best.
The keeper grabbed a dangerous cross from Ramires, blocked a close-range shot from Oscar then made a defiant double save from Paulinho.
Germany took off Klose and brought on Andre Schurrle with breakaway goals on the likely agenda as the match ran on towards its eventual outcome. That was how it played out. Lahm skipped around the Brazil defence on the right and passed across the penalty box where Schurrle stabbed in from close range.
Fred, jeered at every touch of the ball, gave way to Willian but Schurrle thumped a seventh goal. Oscar scored a ‘consolation’ in the last minute of normal time but 7-1 was still the worst defeat in Brazil’s history – worse than the 6-0 demolition by Uruguay in the Copa America in 1920.