Despite my indifference towards the Brazilian National Team and their particular brand of football, I have to refrain from reveling in the ashes of their semi-final defeat to Germany. It was gruesome. It was brutal. It was German. Brazil suffered immensely, and it was difficult to watch.
The Brazil National Team, already burdened heavily by the shame and humiliation of their loss, will be forever haunted by the infamy of the most lopsided game in semi-final history. 7-1, was the final score–and it could have been worse for Brazil.
I cannot revel. Brazil has done much for the game, both in Brazil and abroad. Club rosters across the professional soccer spectrum, from Japan to Russia to Turkey to America, are drafted with Brazilian surnames. Brazil is a country that breeds football talent. They are the cradle of football civilization. So what went wrong?
Well, for one, Germany was in town, and when Germany drops in, either a world war gets started or lots of goals are scored. Luckily for us, the latter took place.
The general media, as they are apt to do, will find it easier to criticize than to praise. They will exhaust their focus in describing Brazil’s mental letdown; their lack of discipline; their lack of patience; their poor coaching and game tactics; their archaic way of playing the game. But to do so, to highlight Brazil’s football inferiority, means also to dismiss and ignore Germany’s tactical brilliance and dominance.
In playing versus Brazil, Germany was what very football team strives to be. Take their patience, for starters. The Deutsch were on their heels for the opening ten-minutes of the match, weathering a barrage of mini-attacks by Brazil’s relentless 4-3-3. It looked as if Germany was in for a load of trouble. But they withstood Brazil’s attack, an attack heavy with emotion, as an entire nation urged Brazil forward. Germany absorbed it all.
Germany remain composed. Their immediate goal was to hold the ball in spurts and cool Brazil’s attack. They succeeded, and Brazil seemed uneasy.
It did not take very long for Germany to strike. When a team puts numbers forward, as Brazil was doing, they will eventually be caught short-handed on the defensive end. At the 11th minute, a chink in the Brazilian armor–call it a slight lapse in concentration–call it Thomas Müller. 1-0, Germany.
To say that an entire nation was stunned would be a gross understatement. Even the Germans looked perplexed. Where was the “cooling break”? No, this is Brazil, right? No obstacle is too great for the five-time champions.
Twelve-minutes later, another Brazilian error, and then Miroslav Klose. 2-0, Germany. Not only did Klose plunge and turn the knife into Brazil’s bleeding heart, he also separated himself from Ronaldo, Brazil’s legendary #9, as the top goal scorer in the history of the World Cup. Germany was now in full march.
From this point on, it was schnitzel for everyone, as Kroos, Khedira, and Schürrle took turns feasting on Brazil’s beleaguered defense. In the end, Germany’s commitment to fundamental football proved way too much for an outmatched and out-shined Brazil squad.
Even a casual reexamination of the match will show how disciplined Germany was on both sides of the ball. On the attack, Germany took advantage of Brazil’s weak midfield defending. They worked the ball inside the middle of the pitch where Brazil was in their 4-3-3 mode. This drew in Brazil’s wings. The Germans then worked the ball back to the outside, spreading their own wings, and spreading Brazil out wide in the most crucial part of the field. When the ball finally came back in, Germany had massive numbers in the box…and space…and time!
The most impressive part of Germany’s performance was their mental discipline. The game had clearly gotten out of hand for Brazil. Frustration was high, and you could see it clearly in Brazil’s willingness to physically harm the German players. At one point, David Luiz all but assaulted Thomas Müller, in front of the ref. To Müller’s credit, he and his mates remained calm and did not retaliate. There were many instances such as this one.
Germany actually found themselves in an awkward position. Do we continue to attack and score goals and come off as cold and unforgiving? Or do we relax somewhat, out of respect for the host county and the legendary players of yesteryear? Relax too much, and you are being disrespectful. Attack and continue the onslaught and you are being disrespectful.
Germany played it well, though. They attacked when the opportunities arose, and they relaxed a bit by keeping possession in their defensive and middle thirds. It was classy, if you ask me.
There is no doubt that Germany is a fantastic side. Are gentian is, too. Argentina will get by the Netherlands, and then they will beat Germany in the World Cup Final. It won’t be easy, but Messi and his mates will lift the Cup.
Argentina, like Germany, is sharp at every position, and their bench, unlike Brazil’s, is loaded with talent. They are physical, they are fearless, and they are skillful. They have speed and superior off-the-ball movement. And they have Messi!
The Albiceleste is hungry! Messi is hungry! Vamos, vamos Argentina!