(Photo courtesy of a Mark Chapman tweet).
As the late and great sports commentator, David Coleman, would have said: quite remarkable!
The most devastating result in World Cup history? How will Brazilian football recover from this?
Those of us who follow Arsenal will recognise that first half. First goal goes in: fear. Second soon after: panic. Third: collapse. All the basics of defending, the organisation, running back, covering, tackling, go out of the window. The ascendant team are sharp, fast, keep the ball and start passing it into the net. They look surprised at how easy it is. Liverpool, Chelsea… Germany.
The Germans scored four goals in six minutes. They were brilliant, incisive, ruthless. But Brazil were shambolic. Did the defence really depend that much on suspended Thiago Silva? Well, it seems so. Could the team cope at all with the loss of Neymar? Clearly not. Fred and Hulk were as cumbersome as ever. Oscar looked as lost as the day I saw him marooned in Griffin Park, Brentford, as Chelsea stumbled to an FA Cup draw against the Bees on a freezing January afternoon. Suddenly this Brazil team looked truly second rate. So much for my forecast.
Germany were awesome. Strong, organised, precise, hard-working, clinical. When Brazil imploded they took ruthless advantage. Muller, Kroos, Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Ozil. All stepping up, in total control of midfield, where the game is won or lost. Klose’s goal making him top World Cup goalscorer of all time. The defence unbreakable.
In the second half, Brazil had an attacking spell, as Germany inevitably relaxed. Neuer, in goal, was imperious, blocking everything Brazil had to throw at him. He – and the defence – looked absolutely gutted when they let Oscar score right at the end. True winners.
The Brazilian crowd booed that goal. They were cheering Germany’s passing by the end. They had disowned their own side, their country. I shudder to think of the repercussions in a country were football is everything. Where they have never experienced a defeat like this. It may begin simply with shock, and sadness. (I’m sad myself to see Brazil so humbled). Then it will turn to anger. And then maybe realisation of what needs to change. But what is that something? Almost all of Brazil’s top players leave the country to play in Europe, where the riches are. Most of Germany’s players play in Germany still. As do the Spanish – let us not forget their recent dominance. Is it still possible to play the Brazilian way when hardly any of the team play in Brazil?
Germany now must be big favourites to win the World Cup. Except… maybe another team will emerge from the second semi looking as strong. Holland will always give Germany a good game. And Argentina still have the magic of Messi.
Even as I kept saying that Brazil were lucky to get thus far, this was sadly shocking. No defence, hardly any attack. The Germans were almost apologetic for the second half goals – even they seemed embarrassed. Their tally could easily have been in double figures. The anger in Brazil’s going to be heightened by the fact that many Brazilians were against staging this World Cup as an extravagance that the country could ill afford.
The Germans are more likely to be stopped – if at all – by the speedy counter-attacks (and perhaps an Oscar-worthy performance in the box by Robben) of Holland than Argentina. But then this is a team that seems to pull out from deep reserves that one hasn’t quite estimated. I do hope Germany wins the Cup no matter who they meet in the final – they’ve richly deserved it.
Yes, you can imagine Robben getting, say, Hummels, red-carded and then anything could happen.
The weird thing about last night was that even defensively solid players like Fernandinho (Man City) and Gustavo (Wolfsburg) – quality players for quality clubs – went completely missing. There was a collective nervous breakdown. Running too high on emotion maybe.
Probably. Your comparison to Arsenal is spot on.
Amazing. Quite unlike any other serious international match I’ve ever seen. In fact, barely serious.
I still have an odd hunch that Argentina may shade it tonight. A little like France and Belgium, I think that Holland are due a below-par performance at a crucial moment. And Argentina keep on grinding it out.
Sort of hoping that might work for selfish reasons, too: I’d now love Germany to win the Cup, but I put money on Argentina. Just my luck if Robben spoiled the party…..
It will be interesting to see what part Aguero has to play. Can he now stay fit? You have to doubt it, but if he does, the pressure comes off Messi a bit.