Wednesday, July 9, 2014

FIFA World Cup - Brazil Decimated

What one saw in the first half an hour of play in the 2014 semi final between Brazil and Germany was one of those types of shocks you reserve for disasters one would never imagine. The manner in which Brazil capitulated in those thirty minutes, as if the team was made of a bunch of amateur school boys, was embarrassing to say the least. No one likes to watch sport where one side totally dominates the other, beats them down, rubs their nose in the mud, with no respect, no care for their dignity. It was something akin to that - and one felt that the ruthless Germans almost held themselves back from inflicting more damage on the hapless Brazilian side almost out of an unnecessary respect for what the host nation means to the game. Brazil, my favorite team for over two and a half decades, richly deserved the wake up call for failing to prepare as well as the Germans did, for fielding the wrong combinations, for being highly dependent on two key players both of whom cost them dearly and for lacking a cohesion and enthusiasm in their play once they were challenged. There was just no spine and it disintegrated. All Germany had to do was pump in their goals and toy with the opposition without breaking a sweat.

The moment the 11th minute corner was conceded, one knew deep inside that there was trouble. But no one expected that Muller would be given a full view of the goal from a space less than that of a penalty kick with no challenger or defender in sight. It was almost as if they hoped that they could get by without marking one of the most dangerous strikers in the world. Muller made full use of the gift and netted in a simple enough goal by his standards. And then Germany stepped up the tempo with Klose, Kroos, Muller, Lahm, Shweinsteiger, Khedira weaving in and out of the Brazilian defence, stealing balls at will, passing through with precision, playing around the defence and ripping it open. The commentator said that Germany has never lost a game when Klose scored and he was there hungry to break Ronaldo's record and he also said that Brazil must not concede another goal and even as he was saying that Klose struck a shot at the goal from up close, which was defended by Cesar. Unfortunately the rebound went directly to Klose who squeezed it in the small gap with precision. Both ominous predictions came true and it was as if the Brazilian team heard it out loud. In the next five minutes they fell to pieces as Kroos scored twice and Khedira another. Fans were crying, little boys traumatised by this inglorious embarrassment, this humiliation by Germany who had almost stopped celebrating the goals now.

Why was the Brazilian defence so disorganised? Why could they not have someone step in, lead and organise their team efforts? Why were they playing like a bunch of individuals all hoping that someone else would do the job for them? To me they will have to question the effort as a team. Did they play as a team? Did they have a plan B? Did they take time to regroup under a leader? I saw none of that on display.

Until the introduction of Ramires in the second half and the second half efforts of Oscar and Marcelo, the team was a collection of individuals with nothing binding them. No wonder the Germans could slice through it all so easily. Many reputations will now be questioned and certainly Brazil seems to have overstretched their run in this tournament way beyond their capability. Glimpses of their football came in the early part of the second half, but too little and too late. It will take a while to get over this for the host nation. For the fans too.

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