The sun came up today and Brazil is still standing. There was some violence after the match. São Paulo saw several buses burnt to a crisp (transportation protests have been an ongoing issue). But the apocalyptic self-destruction that twitter and the sports media so wanted to see never came. They will have to settle for the catastrophe that occurred between the white lines only. Brazil was pummelled by Germany 7-1, here are my thoughts:
COLD AS ICE
There is very little negative about the Germans. They were cool, calm, and calculated. They had a plan from the beginning and they never deviated. The moment was never bigger than the Germans. They let their technical and tactical abilities take over, and hit cruise control by the 30th minute. The Germans faced an epic test: in Brazil, against the favorite hosts, with thousands of rabid fans against them. They didn’t let their emotions beat them.
If the Germans were able to manage the moment and stay calm, the Brazilians were their equal and opposite. From the opening kickoff three weeks ago the Brazilians have been overcome by the World Cup. No host nation has had more pressure to win a World Cup than this one, and the psyche of this team was not strong enough to handle the moment.
It was nice to hear Filipao take responsibility for what happened on the field, but too little, too late. Hindsight is 20/20 and all, but fans and pundits alike were perplexed by some of the personnel decisions made by Scolari dating back to the Confederations Cup. I don’t need to go into detail, but we all know this team wasn’t balanced. Where was the leadership?
THE MYTH IS DEAD
Dani Alves, post match:
We need to evolve. Football is evolving around the entire world. See Costa Rica or Chile. We are a footballing country, but we don’t own football.
Some may say Alves is just lashing out at Scolari for not playing him, but there is truth here. In the 1982 World Cup Brazil lost to Italy 3-2 in Barcelona. The late great Socrates reliving that game:
That side epitomised Brazil. It may have been the last side to represent Brazil in a World Cup that epitomised the country. It was irreverent, joyful, creative, free-flowing. From that point onwards, the Seleçao became like any other first-world country national side.
That day has been dubbed the day the beautiful game lost to tactical football. Those words still hold true. Brazil hasn’t played with the irreverence or joy that matches the beauty of the people since 1982. But the myth of the beautiful game lived on, always under the surface, with peeks and glances scattered over the last 32 years. July 8th, 2014 will be remembered as the day the myth of beautiful Brazilian football died. There is no more fear. World football has caught up.
For years Brazilian squads were capable of defeating opponents by combining incredible individual talent, heart, and chemistry. Over the course of the last few decades the rest of the world found their own individual masters. This is not to say that Brazil had cornered the market on talent, but it was undoubtedly the top producer for the better part of the last 60 years. More so, not only did they catch up and in many cases surpass the Brazilians on an individual level, they are masters of the tactical side of the game. Students of movement. Academics of training and nutrition.
The Brazilians have been banking on their talent to carry them for too long. This embarrassment was needed. If Brazil had lost to Germany by a goal, there would have been room for excuses. Neymar and Silva were absent. The pressure. The inexperience. The myth would never die by losing a close match. To slay that dragon it would require a once in a lifetime defeat. A historical moment. Germany is not six goals better than Brazil. But on July 8th, they were 6 goals better. As if it was a cosmic alignment, every piece was exactly in place for Germany to perfectly dismantle Brazil. A necessary evil. This will force Brazilian football to take a good hard look at themselves. This is a defining moment. Brazil is now at a footballing crossroad. The hope is that the gravity of the loss will change the course of Brazilian football, for the better.
I am appalled by the snarky quips from the pundits at ESPN insinuating that the streets of Copacabana were not erupting into riots solely because it just so happened to be raining. The narrative fabricated by the blood lust of those watching safely from the internet or on their couches has been looming the entire World Cup. The heathens of Brazil are only being held in check by the Seleçao winning. How disgraceful to confuse protesting for improved infrastructure, transportation, health care, and education to looters and arsonists waiting in the wings to send Brazil back to the stone age just because they lost a football match. The people of Brazil are better than that…
The Brazilian people might have been embarrassed, but the large majority of them exhibited pure class. They applauded Miroslav Klose upon his substitution, hitting the bench as the all-time leading scorer at the World Cup, surpassing a Brazilian in doing so. They also gave the German national team a round of applause at the completion of the match, they deserved it.
The twenty-three members of the Seleçao, and the staff that put together the team deserve every bit of embarrassment. The CBF deserves embarrassment. But the millions of people that lose their minds cheering and supporting don’t deserve this. The millions that use sport as an escape, a release, as a display of human physical achievement, as a piece of art; they deserve more. They put aside their social frustrations for a piece of joy. They subdued their voices to have the chance to see those golden shirts lift the World Cup trophy. They exchanged their outrage for a piece of history. They received nothing.
The sun did come up today. It is just a sport. It only feels as if someone has passed away. Everything is fine. Everything is the same. Everything but Brazilian football. The myth is dead. Naivety is dead. Real judgement comes upon the response to July 8th, 2014.
Until next time,