Brittle Brazil: Madness at the Miniero

Brittle Brazil: Madness at the Miniero

No doubt the most damaging defeat in Brazilian history, Germany’s 7-1 victory over the hosts was at least on the same level as the Maracanazo, where Uruguay triumphed over the then host nation Brazil 2-1 in the final. For the second time running, the five time world champions were denied to lift the cup in their home nation.

Relatively, this team cannot be compared to the teams of the past, it is a mere shadow compared to the more illustrious ancestors. This was also a team without their two most crucial personnel, Neymar and Thiago Silva. However, this was a team still filled with season veterans from the top clubs and leagues around Europe. This is still a very experienced team that have personnel regularly tested against the world’s best at club level. There is no excuse for the shambolic display – on all fronts – in a very high profile semi final match.

The host advantage was perhaps Brazil’s biggest advantage, and their biggest downfall. The loss of Neymar obviously further galvanized the Selecao and its supporters against a tough European opposition. However, emotion can only take you so far. It was a swarm of angry bees slamming themselves against a well oiled machine, hurting themselves more and more with each attack.

Granted, Germany were perhaps the favorites in many neutrals’ eyes, but in a World Cup fraught with upsets, Brazil had a very good chance progressing to the final on home soil. The hosts had the team on paper that could stifle the European opposition, yet they played perhaps the worst possible style against a very professional and talented German unit.

Simply, the hosts foolishly went toe to toe with a side that thrives playing against said game plan. The German midfield of Kroos, Khedira, and Schweinsteiger was always going to have the upper hand against a Brazilian midfield of Luiz Gustavo, Fernandinho, and Oscar in an open setup. Yet foolishly, Brazil threw numbers time and time again, leaving acres of space behind them for the Germans to exploit repeatedly.

They were playing like a 1970s Brazil side without the 1970s squad. Yet, that only compounded with the vast amount of individual mistakes that included ball watching, atrocious man marking, and frequent positional mistakes.

Consider the very first goal, off a simple corner routine. David Luiz was supposed to mark the most dangerous player on the pitch, Thomas Mueller. Not only was he guilty for losing his man, he was ball watching, already committing Brazil to conceding the first goal, leaving Mueller the freedom of the 18 yard box to deliver a clinical strike. Luiz, who was stand in captain for Thiago Silva, committed several over horrible mistakes that resulted in several more goals. Luiz Gustavo, normally a solid defensive anchor for club and country, also had a disastrous game. For the second goal, he allowed Thomas Mueller all the space behind the defense to assist Miroslav Klose’s record breaking goal. Even off the rebound from Klose’s first attempt, Gustavo easily was in range to tackle Klose, putting him off enough to miss his second attempt. Instead, the defensive midfielder just stood there, a meter or two away, allowing Klose to slot home the second shot comfortably. His midfield partner Fernandinho, was caught on the ball not 25 yards away from his own net, for the fourth goal. Toni Kroos robbed the Brazilian of the ball, and after a series of passes with Sami Khedira, finished the simple and effective move with an easy finish. The worst part is, everyone in the Brazilian defense mishandled the situation in a few other instances, some of which were identical, resulting in the horrible defeat.

Fred and Hulk once again failed to recapture their form from the Confederations Cup last year, unable to become viable attacking outlets every time Brazil managed to get forward. Both failed to hold up the ball, failed to beat their man, failed to really trouble any part of the German defense. This of course, made it that much harder for the poor South American defense, allowing for more frequent counter attacks.

Brazil simply failed to play to their strengths. The likes of Fernandinho and Luiz Gustavo aren’t the type that can hold their own against the finest midfield in World football in an open match. There should have been strict orders from Scolari to close the gap between themselves and the Brazilian defense. David Luiz, for whatever reason, played extremely recklessly, charging forward several times in the match without any effect besides leaving acres of space behind him. The same could have been said for the fullbacks, Marcelo and Maicon, both of whom bombed forward without actually contributing anything meaningful in attack, while, like everyone else, leaving acres of space on the flanks for the likes of Phillip Lahm and Thomas Mueller to exploit.

The most bizarre thing was the fact that Brazil head coach Phillip Scolari was fully expected to play a physical and slow game against the Germans, especially with the lack of Neymar and Thiago Silva in the lineup. For a very experienced coach, who won the competition himself in 2002 with Brazil, this was a very naive mistake. If he indeed ordered his XI to play a defensive game, then that is an entirely different problem on its own.

Anyone can guess what this result means for Brazilian football, both at club and international level. A large surgery will be needed in order to change the complexion of the squad. The likes of Dani Alves, Julio Cesar, Hulk, and Fred most likely played their last competitive major tournament. Then there is the question of who should be kept alongside the likes of Neymar to carry this nation forward. Like Spain after the 5-1 loss against the Dutch, major decisions have to be made in order to continue the strong football tradition at the highest level.

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