BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — It was a humiliating home defeat of record proportions that no Brazilian could have seen coming.
With its defense collapsing early and nobody able to spark the attack, Brazil conceded four goals in a seven-minute span, trailed 5-0 at half time and was routed 7-1 by Germany in the World Cup semifinals on Tuesday.
“We got lost a little bit there,” Brazil’s stand-in captain David Luiz said. Germany “realized the game was there for the taking and scored the goals.
“It’s very difficult to explain right now. The dream is over, in a way that the people didn’t want.”
Brazil’s most heartbreaking World Cup defeat had been a 2-1 loss to Uruguay in the last match of the 1950 World Cup that it played host to. The loss to Germany ranks right up there with that painful defeat.
Fans were in shock, some leaving well before the final whistle.
The Brazilian crowd that had been supporting the national team throughout the tournament jeered loudly after the match, and again when the players raised their hands to applaud them. Luiz kneeled on the ground and prayed, with his arms and index fingers pointed up. Oscar, who scored Brazil’s lone goal, cried near midfield.
“The players knew from the beginning that by playing at home our obligation was to reach the final and win the final,” Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said.
Home-field advantage wasn’t enough for Brazil again, but not having its top two players available for the semifinal played a major part in the defeat at the Mineirao Stadium. Without suspended captain and key defender Thiago Silva and injured star striker Neymar, the Brazilian team appeared rudderless.
Although Silva’s replacement, Dante, was not directly responsible for Germany’s goals, the defense seemed lost from the beginning, giving up space and easy chances to the Germans, who had a 5-0 lead by the 29th minute.
“Truthfully,” Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar said, “it’s very hard to explain the unexplainable.”
The Germans were, quite clearly, the better team, but Brazil’s defense was bad.
Seven goals worth of bad.
In the place of Silva, Dante made his first start of the tournament alongside Luiz in the center of defense. Marcelo and Maicon played on the flanks.
But an attacking start opened up huge gaps at the back, and it wasn’t long before the first goal came from an unmarked Thomas Mueller following a corner kick.
The other goals soon poured in.
“We realized that they were cracking up and took advantage of it,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said. “The host was unable to deal with the pressure.”
Brazil pressured in the beginning, but the attack never had a chance to keep the hosts in the match. Central forward Fred, one of the most loudly jeered players when he was substituted in the second half, ended the tournament with one goal. No other Brazilian striker – other than Neymar – scored.