World Cup 2014: Brazil's meltdown caught us by surprise
Thiago Silva's absence hurt more than Neymar, writes Nigel Reed
It is not about words. Sometimes there are no words to describe what we witnessed. They pay me to talk and write about the World Cup but, on this extraordinary occasion, I find myself virtually speechless.
It is a gut feeling. It is one of absolute shock. One of devastating emptiness. As I write, I am almost numb with disbelief at what transpired in the first semifinal. No one in their right mind could possibly have predicted such a meltdown for a country so rightly proud of its football tradition.
In Brazil, football is life. Germany just murdered it in cold blood and got away with the crime.
In truth, the hosts committed football suicide. The defending for the opening goal in Belo Horizonte set the tone. Thomas Müller was never going to refuse the gift of an early goal and the subsequent die was cast. The avalanche of four goals in six minutes ended the contest long before the half hour mark.
Turns out Neymar’s World Cup ending injury was not pivotal to the plot. The major miss was Brazil’s captain and defensive rock, Thiago Silva. Without his influence, Brazil’s back line folded like a pack of cards and the clinical Germans took full advantage.
Remember when the Netherlands tore Spain apart on Day 2? If that was a result nobody saw coming, Germany’s 7-1 drubbing of Brazil is simply off the charts. And it could have been worse — much worse, had Germany not eased off the gas in the second half.
Brazil's missed opportunity
This was Brazil’s World Cup to lose. Now it has been lost in the most humiliating fashion imaginable. A country will mourn for its passing and a huge opportunity missed. Brazil was trying to bury the ghost of 1950 but it has merely created a new monster, the scars of which will take years to heal.
For Brazilians, the tournament now means nothing. The World Cup, on which they had pinned their hopes and dreams for seven years, is out of reach. Yet they must sit and watch and host while others take away the grandest prize the game has to offer. It will be an excruciating experience for most.
In Germany, the party is just getting started. Miroslav Klose is a new World Cup record holder and Joachim Loew’s team holds a crucial psychological advantage regardless of its opponent in Sunday’s showpiece. The hosts have been hammered, so who now can stand up, accept the challenge and halt Germany’s march to soccer supremacy?