Brazil’s Oscar lies on the pitch during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between Brazil and Germany at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. (AP)
Football is conducive to superlatives: the greatest, the fastest, the most amazing, the most beautiful, the most watched, the most played.
How about the most agonizing? Most stunning? Most breathtaking, jaw-dropping, tongue-swallowing, humiliating?
Decades from now, historians of Jogo Bonito will turn back the pages and recall, heads shaking, what transpired on July 8, 2014, in the country that gave the world Pele and Ronaldinho and Neymar.
It was a moment unlike any other in the history of modern football. (not sure about ancient football, if there was such a thing). A nation hosting the world’s premier sporting event, hundreds of millions of its citizens harnessing their passions and channeling them to drive their team to claim The Trophy, The Championship, to bring The Glorious Laurels of Victory home after a dozen years of wandering in the wilderness.
For Brazil, losing by one goal, in the semifinal match of the tournament it was hosting, would have been emotional. Two goals, heart-wrenching. Three goals, inexplicable. Six goals?
Seven goals to one goal is an unspeakable result in football at any levels. It’s the kind of result that has elementary school coaches calling for a mercy rule.
Against Brazil? Germany scored more goals against Brazil than any other team in a World Cup match. Ever.
As good as Germany’s performance was, it was amplified many times over by how bad Brazil’s performance was.
In their quarterfinal match-up with Colombia, Brazil passed, shot, scored, headed and moved the ball like a pinball, in a relentless pace that gave full stage to the fitness and talent and skill of both teams. (As well as the brutal nature that such a game can play). Brazil was not invincible, as shown by Colombia’s tenacity, but it was still a superior side.
On Tuesday, Brazil stood, watched, hobbled, walked and choked as the Germans trampled them. Mueller, Klose, Koons, Kheidira, Schuerrle: their scoring prowess was unanswered, undefended, unstoppable. Klose now tops the tables of the most goals scored in the World Cup over all his tournament appearances.
The easy explanations are… well… easy. Brazil’s fleet-footed, walk-on-water striker Neymar was injured, nursing a broken verterbrae, an injury that could nearly end his career forever. Brazil’s captain, Thiago Silva, missed the match after getting multiple yellow cards. The team was psychologically damaged by their absence.
But really? Is an entire professional football squad so fragile and un-resilient that the loss of one or two formidable players results in complete collapse? This might be a question for the national coach: Luiz Scolari. If you don’t build a squad with depth and breadth, along with flash and sizzle and artistry and stamina, then you’ve failed as a manager.
Seven goals was the most ever scored in a World Cup semifinal. It was not the most scored in a World Cup match (that honor, according to FIFA, belongs to Hungary, which defeated El Salvador in 1982, 10-1). It was not even the largest differential in a World Cup match (that, according to FIFA, belongs to Hungary, twice, and Yugoslavia back when there was such a country when nine goals separated the victors from the losers).
But arguably, never before, have two football powerhouse, two giants in the sweep and the span of the game, met on the field of competition with one, ultimately, being so utterly tormented, driven to its knees, embarrassed. On its home turf, no less.
Tuesday is a day to remember. Or maybe, to borrow a literary reference from another time, another place, another event in history, A Night To Remember.
Stop praying to Me, Brazil. Even I can’t help you now. #WorldCup
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) July 8, 2014
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 8, 2014
Brazil’s plan B against Germany pic.twitter.com/oCUl4pjbjj
— Aniket Shah (@_Aniket) July 8, 2014
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 8, 2014
— Mitchell Tischler (@Mitch_Tischler) July 8, 2014
Brazil’s game-plan for the second half pic.twitter.com/JxC0RpxvYA
— 2014 World Cup (@20l4WorIdCup) July 8, 2014
— MG Siegler (@parislemon) July 8, 2014
— Brian M.K. Allen (@brianmka) July 8, 2014
UPDATE: It turns out this match was a World Cup classic, but for all the wrong reasons for Brazil. Germany beats Brazil 7-1, scoring the most goals in a World Cup semifinal match ever, including four in under 30 minutes. Germany advances to the finals, where they will face either Argentina or the Netherlands.
The Tweet above, from VOA’s Brian Allen, says it all: Brazil knows it’s on the brink of the World Cup final, and the excitement of being so close to not just winning, but winning on their home turf, is palpable.
But Brazil’s facing a few speed bumps on its road to the World Cup finals – specifically, the loss of Neymar to a back injury, and Thiago Silva’s suspension after two yellow cards in as many matches. And even if they can overcome these issues, they still have another major obstacle to face: Germany.
Needless to say, this should be a hard fought match, and potentially a World Cup classic in the making. The showdown gets underway at 4 PM ET (8 PM UTC) in Belo Horizonte.
For play-by-play, minute-by-minute coverage of every ball touch, throw-in, direct kick, indirect kick, yellow card, red card, corner kick, goal kick and every other possible football feat in every World Cup match, tap into VOA’s multilingual, multinational analysis.
And for even more exclusive VOA coverage with a special focus on Africa’s national teams, check out VOA’s Francophone blog.
If you’re looking to pick the winner of this year’s World Cup, look no further than Germany.
Well, don’t look at Germany – look at who they’re playing.
In the past three World Cups, Germany has lost in the knockout round to the eventual winner: in 2002, they were runners-up to Brazil in the final; in 2006, they lost to Italy in the semifinals; and in 2010, they lost to Spain in the semifinals.
Given their track record, a loss by Germany today suggests that Brazil will win the title. Meanwhile, if Germany wins, look to the winner of the Argentina/Netherlands match to win it all.
…unless, of course, Germany can break their losing streak – as we noted yesterday, it’s up to the Soccer Gods.
After nearly a month of non-stop soccer, the 2014 World Cup championships are in sight. Four teams in particular have their eyes on the prize: Argentina, Brazil, Germany, and the Netherlands – the last four teams left.
Obviously, all four are playing to win. But what’s their motivation? What are the specific elements that are pushing them towards a win?
Brazil: Win for Their Country
Brazil is the most successful country in World Cup history, winning five titles since 1958. But perhaps the most memorable Cup for Brazilians is one they didn’t win – in 1950, when Brazil last hosted the World Cup, the home team lost to rival (and neighbor) Uruguay by 2-1. Over 60 years later, the Cup is back on Brazilian soil – and Brazil is hoping it can win the title on home turf.
Germany: Close it Out
The last three World Cups have not been kind to Germany. In 2002, they were the runner-up to Brazil. In 2006 and 2010, they came in third place, losing to eventual champions Italy and Spain (respectively) in the semi-finals. This year, Germany is hoping to break that streak, and break the conception that they’re always a World Cup bridesmaid, never a World Cup bride.
Argentina: Do It for Messi
Lionel Messi is arguably the most popular and successful soccer player in the world today. But with all of the titles, the awards, the praise, there’s one prize that’s alluded him: a World Cup title. A contender for the Golden Boot award, given to the player who scores the most goals, Messi’s surely hoping to score not only the award, but a title for Argentina.
Netherlands: Avenge their Loss
The Dutch came within one match of winning the 2010 World Cup, falling to Spain in the final 1-0. But with the defending champions knocked out in the group stage of this year’s Cup, the Dutch are hoping that they can avenge their loss and finish the job they couldn’t four years ago.