BELO HORIZONTE: Like impostors who begin believing their own lies, the Selecao of 2014 too sauntered into the semifinal against Germany here telling themselves they were a team that stood a chance of getting within touching distance of a sixth World Cup title. They forgot that it would not be Germany — the world’s top ranked team — but their own sickening ineptitude at this level that would so cruelly expose them.
If it was a carnage, a massacre, an annihilation and all the death-inducing adjectives that the composed and prepared Europeans inflicted on them, it must be pointed out that it was Brazil who had ordered the firing squad themselves and provided for the ammunition. Germany scored seven goals in a single game here. In South Africa, Spain won the World Cup with the just one more — eight goals. A late Oscar goal brought some late cheer but angry and shocked tears flowed freely at the Estadio Minerao.
One is not sure what was more humiliating for the Brazilians – the first-half’s 18-minute spell that produced four goals past them or that the Germans pulled their feet off the pedal and decided to spare Scolari’s side further agony and score any more, playing at half-speed in the second half. Even then, the abject cluelessness of Brazil’s defence forced them to score two more.
It has often been said that the world football had turned a corner with last year’s Confederations Cup when Brazil hammered a mentally fatigued Spain side and that it was to set the template for the future, especially the World Cup. Everyone invoked the effect of 2013 to suggest what was in store with a young, hungry Brazil raring to get off the blocks. Scolari arrogantly even announced his squad weeks before the deadline, claiming that he had seen at the Confederations what he had need to see, and now there was no looking back. While it is true that Spain never recovered from their Brazilian experience of 2013, it also showed up that Brazil were never ready. All they had believed had been a mirage.
This was not even about the Neymar effect. The talismanic Brazilian’s injury that put him out of the World Cup was milked to the maximum by a squad and his manager who used it well to divert the attention from the real flaws. The theatre for the missing Neymar bordered on the absurd – stand in skipper David Luiz holding aloft a No. 10 jersey just before the National anthem was played. The expelled Thiago Silva still making an appearance during warm-up wearing a Forca Neymar cap – it was as if the semifinal was hijacked by the absence of one man, and his not being there would lift the team to great heights. But that was never going to happen, Neymar had been the jet engine fuel for this side, but without him, that the holes would so glaringly show up could never be imagined.
World Cup 1st semifinal: Brazil vs Germany