Brazil-Germany 2014 World Cup: What Hosts Can Learn From Historic Defeat


Jul 8, 2014

Brazil Germany 2014 World Cup semifinalGermany is deservedly marching to the 2014 FIFA World Cup final thanks to Brazil’s historically great act of hospitality.

Germany consigned Brazil to its worst-ever World Cup defeat on Tuesday, hammering the host nation by a score of 7-1 in a World Cup semifinal.

Germany scored five goals in the first half, including four in a seven-minute span, which left Brazil’s players stunned and its fans in tears. The game was competitive for the first 20 minutes. It wasn’t for the last 70.

The English language might not contain enough superlatives to describe the magnitude of Germany’s triumph. Nor does it have enough of whatever the inverse is called to accurately portray how big of a national tragedy this is for Brazil.

The result broke records that had stood for decades. It was Brazil’s first home loss since 2002. Brazil hadn’t lost a competitive game at home since 1975. The six-goal margin of defeat doubled Brazil’s previous worst loss in a World Cup — the 3-0 setback against France in 1998. Brazil lost to Uruguay by a score of 6-0 in the 1920 South American Championship. Brazil hadn’t conceded five goals in a World Cup game since 1938 (a 6-5 victory over Poland). In short, Brazil loses like this once every 100 years.

It’s easy to explain how it happened: Brazil set out to attack. It didn’t work. Germany scored early — somewhat against the run of play — and Brazil’s players collapsed psychologically.

Brazil was without its captain and defensive titan, Thiago Silva, and its superstar forward Neymar, who suffered a broken back during his team’s 2-1 victory over Colombia in the quarterfinals. We’ll never know how the Brazil-Germany game would have played out of with Neymar and Silva in the lineup.

Vice-captain David Luiz tearfully apologized to his country immediately after the game, while Brazil head coach Luis Felipe Scolari rightfully accepted the blame for the “mistake” and vowed to learn from the historic defeat.

What lessons can the drubbing teach Brazil? They’re obvious, and we already know them.

Scolari wasn’t and isn’t the right man for this job at this time — as we said when he was hired in December 2012.

The piece starts with this prophetic line: “You can’t always get what you want. But when it happens, you often get what you deserve.”

Scolari’s outdated methods of building his players’ esteem and trust within the group failed at a pivotal moment. Throughout the 2014 World Cup, Brazil’s players have been seeing sports psychologist Regina Brandao, who was helping them cope with the pressure of the tournament. Brazil’s players were were shocked when Neymar was felled by injury, and Brandao was supposed to help them bear the added responsibility.

Brazil’s disorganization and subsequent capitulation in the midst of adversity suggests that sessions with Brandao didn’t have the desired effect and players lacked the mental strength to perform on this stage. It’s not Brandao’s fault. The team’s mentality starts and ends with the head coach.

Scolari’s tactical approach also must come under scrutiny. Scolari’s pragmatic and unimaginative style of soccer carried Brazil to the last four, but he became a romantic in recent days — even though Neymar was injured and Brazil was playing Germany.

Instead of staying compact, as Brazil did against Chile (in the Round of 16), or going with using the playing by prison rules, as it did against Colombia, Scolari’s team attacked from the opening whistle, creating a defensive imbalance, which Germany exploited with ruthless and devastating efficiency.

In the end, Brazil was left to ponder a defeat that was worse than France ’98 and arguably worse than the “Maracanazo,” the 2-1 loss to Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup final, which also took place on home soil.

Review our live blog of Brazil-Germany >>

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