It was not as heart-breaking as 1950, neither as regrettable as 1982. Brazil’s 7-1 semi-final loss to Germany was downright embarrassing.
Indeed, a stadium and a nation endured a harrowing experience. The rollercoaster of emotions flowed one way — downwards. Shock turned into despair, gasp, and finally a delusional reality. Was Brazil really that bad? Was the weight of a nation too much of a burden to carry? In the end, it was a little of both.
Not only was it the weight of a nation; it was also the scales of history. The most successful nation in World Cup history had not won the World Cup on home soil. Germany ensured — much like Uruguay did in 1950 — that they would not. The only difference was the process of doing so. At the Maracana 64 years ago, hope had turned into sudden despair. Noise had been silenced. In 2014, the capitulation began early; the ship was capsized before it could set sail.
It was almost as if everything that could go wrong went wrong; that the unexpected became the expected. The dread of an embarrassing loss turned into sheer reality.
As tears cascaded down the eyes of Brazilian fans, there was no denying the sense of cruelty. This Brazil side had been supported whole-heartedly by the fans. The emotional investment had been too severe. The emotional grief proved to be just as severe.
The monsters crawled from under the bed. The ghosts sprang forth from their hiding places. The goblins broke out from the cabinet and the sirens began their singing. This was Brazil at its worst with every goal punching a hole in the record books and hammering a nail in the coffin. Here was Brazil — the Hollow Men. Germany passed right through them.
The ease of it was startling. So open were Brazil, so confused their players that the Germans merely picked their passes away and penetrated the permeating spaces. First, Thomas Muller scored from a corner, and then Miroslav Klose got a second before Toni Kroos’s double. Sami Khedira slid in another meaning that by half-time, the team with five World Cups to its name had conceded five.
It was not just the concession; it was the nature of it. Set-piece defending was at fault for the first, while paltry defending followed for the others. Not just the defenders though — even the midfielders looked lost at sea. So open and divided were they that they seemed like doors without locks and with the wrong doorknobs stuck on them.
To compound it, Klose’s goal represented a history making moment. In Brazil, versus Brazil, the German overtook the Brazilian Ronaldo to become the World Cup’s all time highest goal scorer. Ronaldo was in the stands, watching and commentating. Not even he could have fathomed such phenomenal a show.
It was joyous for the Germans, but it turned very quickly into a massacre which even they did not seem comfortable partaking in. Their ruthlessness had turned into an obligation. And even though Brazil came out fighting in the second half, Manuel Neuer denied them before Andre Shuerrler came off the bench to net a brace of his own.
By the time Oscar got a goal in the last minute, the tie had descended into irrelevance. The goal was cheered and jeered in equal measure. Half-hearted relief accompanied part sarcasm. It was difficult to know what exactly the Mineirao crowd was conveying.
Shock and sadness early on meant that the fans did not know whether to laugh or cry; whether to stare in anguish or look away. Olés were heard for every German pass — applause for some of Germany’s goals. Even boos were unclear and directed at Fred but in reality to everything and everyone. By game’s end, the crowd had grown tired of trying to figure out what it is they were exactly meant to be doing in these exacting circumstances.
This will most definitely form part of an inquisition. Brazil’s failure at its own World Cup — again — will be the 21st Century’s latest Brazilian query. If before now the question was where had all the samba gone — why had those magical feet been replaced by functionality and resourcefulness — then now the question will be why can’t Brazil just win a World Cup at home.
If any consolation persists, it is that Neymar was out injured and captain Thiago Silva was suspended. These two represent a departure from current Brazilian footballer standards. One is a highly incredibly talented footballer — vying for his position among current greats. The other is the best defender in the world.
Loss of these two certainly contributed. It would have been a huge blow to anyone, but so telling a blow was it for Brazil that it produced an unforeseeable fate. Surely, the greatest nation in history is better than just the overbearing qualities of two footballers.
Even so, with both of them throughout the tournament, Brazil never looked anywhere near extra-ordinary. Without them, they certainly looked everything less than ordinary.