By Bhas Kunju | Chief Editor , Goal Singapore
With every knockout stage match ending shy of goals, it seemed Germany and Brazil, two giants of football, were going to duke it out for a closely fought tie. Anyone waking up to the result would be stunned at the final scoreline. 7-1, the Germans ran riot and smashed a few records while at it.
But Brazil's undoing didn't happen overnight. They were knocked out in spectacular fashion but their fate had been slowly etched from the get go and they made so many mistakes from the start of the tournament that, if anything, it's a surprise they even made the final four.
Played an open game against a ruthless Germany side
Let's start with the ill-fated game itself. Germany are one of the most potent teams on the planet. Just look at the players they could afford to leave on the bench, let alone not bring to Brazil. With just one recognisable out and out striker, they eliminated the dependency on a striker's inconsistent form. What they substituted for that was an entire team that was capable of switching into attacking mode at a moment's beckoning.
The Germans are an uncompromising side and even had the audacity to start Miroslav Klose, the man who has been patiently waiting 12 years to claim the World Cup goalscoring record. Brazil, unfortunately, did not take heed.
Perhaps, it was pride from being the host nation or they had underestimated the Germans, but opting to take their opponents on in an open attacking game was always going to be a disaster.
A shaky Brazil defence was already without Thiago Silva and in his place was the newly forged duo of David Luiz and Dante. Both played with as much as chemistry as two strangers on a blind date.
Worse, there was no sting in Brazil's attack to pin Germany back, leaving the backline open to repeated surges. Algeria in comparison held the World Cup finalists to a goalless draw, because they knew the key to even matching them was to frustrate them in the final third.
Relied heavily on Neymar
History books will say, the result might have been different had Neymar played. But Scolari himself squashed it saying the team was more than just the injured forward. In the post-match interview he said, "Neymar is one of the team, but he is a striker and he wouldn’t have helped us defend those moves. There's no reason to think it would have been different with Neymar."
However, it will be hard to overlook the influence Neymar had on the team. With four goals to his name, the
22-year-old was a vital part of the set-up and beyond the Barcelona man, Brazil had no one to turn to.
They were almost caught out when the forward was not in his best form, but when he failed to take the field all together they were left without direction. Brazil tried desperately to tell everyone that they were not dependent on Neymar but it failed to show when they needed to the most.
With an already fragile backline that had not been really tested, Brazil needed to be able to hold out against Germany. One way is to stifle them from midfield, but in Luis Gustavo and Paulinho, the hosts boasted two weak defenders who did little to boost the confidence of the backline.
The other was to pin the Germans in their own half. But to do that, you will need a potent attacking player, something that was horrendously absent for Brazil throughout the tournament. This leads to the next mistake.
Fred boasts a marvelous domestic goalscoring record, and then justified it with a star performance at the Confederations Cup last year.
The Confeds are grossly misleading in terms of gauging abilities, and the standard of domestic football in Brazil is evidently nowhere near that of their European counterparts.
One goal and largely nothing more to show for besides facial hair changes, Fred was a lumbering mistake. Brazil were not without options in attack either. Kaka, Ronaldinho, Robinho and Pato had all looked at least worth a call-up but they weren't.
When Neymar was ruled out, that mistake hit even harder. There was no one to turn to but Willian, Bernard and Fred. The former two have a grand total of three goals between them at international level. Fred, while a little more prolific on paper, looked far from it at the tournament. His every touch was booed and managed just five measly shots on target from all six matches. Let that sink in for awhile. That's not even an average of a shot per game.
Hosting the World Cup
Don't get me wrong, Brazil did a splendid job hosting one of the most memorable World Cups of all time. Unfortunately they had to be a part of it for the wrong reasons too in the end.
The tournament looked doomed from the start with infrastructure developments falling well behind the schedule. Locals protested the hosting over exorbitant costs and workers died constructing the massive stadiums but worst of all, hopes were raised sky high.
It would be hard to dispute that Brazil hosted the tournament without dreams of winning the competition on home soil and vanquish the horrible memories of 1950 when they lost the tournament to Uruguay on home soil. Maracanazo as they came to call it, was a national disaster. Now they can sadly add another tragedy to their history.
Dreams have a cruel way of unraveling and well meaning intents can backfire spectacularly. Brazil didn't just exit the tournament, or get mauled 7-1, they crushed the hopes and aspirations of an entire nation. Perhaps David Luiz, heartbreakingly, puts it the best: