BY DARREN GOON Follow on Twitter
|MAN OF THE MATCH
Brazil 1-7 Germany
Despite the absences of their best player, Neymar, and captain, Thiago Silva, A Seleção gave a good account of themselves in the opening minutes. Marcelo flashed a shot wide of the far post while Manuel Neuer had to catch a dangerous Hulk cross as Bernard lurked in the middle of the box.
However, Germany took just eleven minutes to break their rhythm. Toni Kroos sent in a free-kick and David Luiz, captain for the night, somehow lost Thomas Müller as he lurked at the far post to side-foot the ball back across Julio Cesar for the opener. It was Müller’s fifth of the tournament, but also Kroos’ fourth assist (drawing him level with Colombia’s Juan Cuardrado at the top of the World Cup assist charts), and his third from a set-piece.
Ten minutes later, the floodgates well and truly opened. It was Kroos again, finding Müller who teed up Klose, slotting home the rebound after Cesar saved his initial effort for his record-setting 16th World Cup goal. It was fitting that he took the record from Ronaldo in Brazil; eight years after the Brazilian striker overtook Gerd Müller’s 14 goals in Germany.
Like a deer caught in the headlights, Brazil didn’t know what hit them, and conceded three more goals by the half-hour mark. Toni Kroos scored his first goals of the tournament with a quickfire double within 69 seconds, the fastest brace in World Cup history.
The first was a curling left-footed volley after Philipp Lahm’s cut-back from the right eluded everyone but Kroos at the far post, and the second came a minute later as the German harried the ball off Fernandinho to set up Sami Khedira, who returned the favour for a tap-in past Julio Cesar. That Germany’s two central midfielders were the furthest forward at that juncture only serves to illustrate the fluidity of their attack.
Germany soon scored their fifth, and Kroos could have had a hat-trick but his shot was charged down by Fernandinho, as leaderless Brazil struggled to get a hold of what was going on around them. The Bayern Munich midfielder completed 93% of his game-high 71 passes, and the ease at which he and Khedira dissected Brazil’s listless midfield was a joy to watch.
The second half saw just three goals (a brace for Andre Schürrle, and a late consolation for Oscar), but the damage was already done, and records fell. The largest margin of victory in a World Cup semi-final. Germany reached the final for the 8th time, more than any other team. Brazil’s biggest World Cup Finals defeat. But it was more than a defeat, it was a humiliation.
Luiz Felipe Scolari had talked about Brazil’s “seven steps to heaven”, but they could only ascend to the sixth before Germany hit them with a seven of their own. It was a team effort by Der Mannschaft, but Toni Kroos’ role in the first four goals made him the standout performer on the night, and virtually guarantees his spot in the team of the tournament.