KEIR RADNEDGE in BELO HORIZONTE: Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari owned up to the worst day in his football life after Brazil succumbed shockingly to their record defeat – by 7-1 at home to Germany in ‘their’ World Cup semi-final.
In his postmortem Scolari mixed apology and acceptance of personal responsibilty with a defiant insistence that “they played their best match in this World Cup and we played our worst.”
He said: “We tried to do our best and we lost to a great team who had the skill and quality, within six or seven minutes, to end the game in an extraordinary manner. After the first goal we knew we had a problem and a team who have been working together for a long time used their skills in a way to which we could not react.
“Until the first goal we were better. Then the Germans scored their first goal from a corner and in another four minutes they scored four goals. That is not normal and after 5-0 our players left them a lot of room.
“We still had some chances. We created some opportunities but I think we lost one match to a great team and even, when we spoke to them at the end, they said even they didn’t know how this happened. Five shots, five goals. It was because of their skill and we respect that.”
Inevitably, after any major defeat, comes the issue of the manager’s share of the blame. Scolari, manager when Brazil won the World Cup in 2002, was reappointed in November 2012 to rebuild a young squad after the failure at the London 2012 Olympics.
Now he had to confront an even more disastrous failure.
Scolari said: “Who is responsible when the team play? Who is invited as the coach? Who is responsible for picking the team? I am. It’s me. So this catastrophic result can be shared with the whole group but the choice of tactical line-up and the way to play, I made.
“So the person responsible is me.
“I did what I thought was best and in this cup we have had only one defeat and in the last year and a half it was our third defeat. Yes it was a terrible defeat because of the score 7-1. In 2002 we won. Great. Now we lost. I was the one who made the choices both times.
“This is a catastrophic, terrible loss, the worst loss by any Brazilian team but we have to learn how to deal with that.
“Everything was organised until the time the goal was scored then we got unorganised. I think everyone blanked out. We had a bit of panic and good things started to happen for them and bad things for us. I don’t regret the choices I made. A coach has to put up with the consequences of his choices.”
Scolari rejected suggestions that less emotion around the national team ‘opera’ or the presence of Neymar would have made any difference to outcome or score.
Place in history
He said: “The German team were fantastic but it won’t happen again for Germany or for us like that ever again.
“It’s probably the worst moment in my career though I’ve lost other matches. But if I think of my life as a player and as a coach as a physical education teacher then I think it was the worst day of my life but life goes on.
“I’ll be remembered because I lost 7-1, the worst defeat in Brazil’s history. But that was a risk I knew I was running when I took this position. Life goes on so that’s what I’m doing to do.”
Driving salt into the wound for all of Brazil, for Scolari and for his players is their sad destiny to fly to Brasilia on Saturday for the third place play-off, the so-called ‘losers’ final.’
“Please excuse me,” said Scolari. “I’m sorry we could not reach the final but we will continue honouring our duty by playing for third place in Brasilia to thank the supporters because even when we were losing by five, six or seven goals they were still there, supporting the players.”
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