BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Even for an 84-year-old tournament drenched in history, Germany 7, Brazil 1 – you read that right – will be remembered as one of the craziest World Cup matches ever. Because of the humiliation it inflicted on a great footballing nation, as one of the most painful to watch, too.
Brazil, the once mighty Brazil, the Brazil that gave the world Pele, so many other great players and yellow-shirted delight, throwing itself like a herd of lemmings off a cliff. Not just a team self-destructing, but an entire nation’s hopes and World Cup joy turning to vinegar and flushing down the drain on live TV before millions of disbelieving eyes around the globe.
No nation has ever done anything like this to Brazil.
Germany’s goals rained in so thick and fast it became a struggle to keep up. The second and then, a minute later, the third goal had the effect of a stun-gun on Brazil. Its players were laboring under such pressure to win their home World Cup. And when it became clear in that minute that they would fail, that pressure became like poison on their brains and legs. They became like ghosts. In the next five minutes, they let in two more.
For Germany, it was like shooting fish in a barrel. No shot could miss. Everything worked. With Brazil gone AWOL, they had the place to themselves. In the crowd, fans’ tears cut streaks through their yellow and green face paint.
Just like their parents and grandparents, this generation of Brazilians now has a football trauma of its own to haunt them. In 1950, when Brazil last played host to the World Cup, Alcides Ghigghia scored the cup-winning goal for Uruguay in the final match against Brazil, leaving a mark on the nation’s psyche as painful as a branding iron.
There were five heart-breakers this time: Thomas Mueller, Toni Kroos and Andre Schuerrle, who got two each, Sami Khedira and Miroslav Klose.
“It was one after the other,” said Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. “I think everyone like blanked out.”
This game has to be viewed as an anomaly on Scolari and his players.
Still, this is the worst national team Brazil has fielded at a World Cup for decades.
Even with Neymar, Brazil couldn’t have scored as many goals as the Germans. They have a team. Brazil didn’t.
And it could get worse.
Brazil’s bitterest rival, Argentina, could advance to Sunday’s final if it beats the Netherlands in the other semifinal.
If that happens, and Argentina wins the cup Brazilians wanted so badly, Brazil’s torture will be complete.