Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Decline and ball: the routing of Brazil

by Thomas Davies.

Last night in Belo Horizonte, something happened that no one privileged enough to watch it will ever forget.

It was a sporting performance of sheer skill, astounding precision and utter ruthlessness. It was the exquisite execution of a technical masterplan years in the making. It was the effortless extinguishing of the dreams of 200 million Brazilian souls.

Germany’s merciless 7-1 rout of their beleaguered hosts broke all sorts of records, was completely unexpected and was breathless to behold.

From minute one, Joachim Löw’s charges asserted a control and dominance more befitting an FA Cup tie between a Premier League outfit and non-league no-hopers than a FIFA World Cup semi-final between two of international football’s most successful sides.

Despite a bright start, the fragility of Brazil’s defence and the bluntness of an insipid attack - shorn of suspended defensive talisman Thiago Silva and the wonderful but injured Neymar – was plain for everyone but the most die-hard Seleção supporter to see.

When Thomas Müller, taking advantage of the acres of space afforded him by the meandering David Luiz, pounced to open Germany’s account a nation was stunned into silence; and the rest of the world began to make out the writing on the wall.

What happened next was humiliation on a scale that Brazil as a footballing powerhouse has never and probably will never experience again.

Within moments, Miroslav Klose had slotted the second – in-so-doing becoming the top scorer in World Cup finals history. But this was a secondary by-line to what was unfolding on the pitch.

In the time it would take for Marcelo and Julio Cesar to belt out their national anthem, the Germans had added two more - a delightful double from the nerveless Toni Kroos that sent the majority inside the stadium into utter despair.

All sorts of wounds were opened for a bewildered and disoriented home side and when Sami Khedira, the outstanding holding midfielder, applied the salt with a fifth inside half an hour, all knew Brazil’s quest for glory on home soil was over.

A second-half brace from substitute Andre Schürrle piled further embarrassment on coach Luis Felipe Scolari who must now surely fall on his sword before it is forced upon him.

The Deutscher Fußball-Bund stranglehold abated finally, with a frustrated finish in stoppage time from Oscar that couldn’t even be classed as consolation.

For Germany, an inexorable and daunting march to the final brings them within touching distance of a first world title in 24 years.

For Brazil, despite a marvellous tournament that has embraced and illustrated the very best of the sport, a footballing dynasty, legacy and reputation stretching a century lies in tatters.

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