• Sunday, December 21, 2014

Freedom in the air

How could Big Phil get it so wrong?

Brazil in disbelief as Germany celebrate goal fest. Photo: Getty Images
Brazil in disbelief as Germany celebrate goal fest. Photo: Getty Images

When Argentina lost 4-0 to Germany at the 2010 World Cup, Diego Maradona was accused of a naive tactical approach against one of the strongest sides in the competition. But what happened to Brazil at home to Joachim Low's men on Tuesday night was much, much worse, Ben Hayward writes in Goal.com.

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong and for all the Brazilian bravado about being able to cope without their two best players, the starting XI looked decidedly ordinary sans Neymar and Thiago Silva.

For all the talk of Brazil's quality in defence, their back line was picked apart at will. The first goal was a gift as awful marking allowed Thomas Muller to arrive late and score from a corner. With Thiago Silva in the side, that may never have happened, but the captain was out after picking up a needless yellow card against Colombia. Not even he could have imagined how costly that would be.

In his absence, Dante came in alongside David Luiz, but the back line were defending far too high up the pitch. With Neymar, Scolari had seemed content for his team to defend deep and attack on the break. But against Germany, they played a high line which was easily exploited by Low's attackers, while huge holes in the midfield allowed the Europeans the freedom of the Mineirao pitch.

Brazilian fans watched in shock and horror as 0-1 became 0-2, 0-3, 0-4 and 0-5 in the space of six minutes. Disbelief turned to depression inside Belo Horizonte's superb stadium; with less than half an hour gone, Brazil's dreams of lifting the World Cup at home were in tatters.

The players left the pitch amid a chorus of jeers at half-time and whatever Scolari said at the break, it had some impact as Brazil began brightly. But beating Manuel Neuer proved much more difficult than finding a way past Julio Cesar and the Bayern keeper made two superb saves to deny the home team.

Brazil's revival didn't last long anyway as substitute Andre Schurrle made it six and then seven, before a late consolation from Oscar which still received the biggest cheer of the night - probably pent-up tension and anger. But this was a reverse of epic proportions, a loss to replace the Maracanazo in the history of the Selecao's most damaging defeats. A Mineirazo.

And it's all down to Scolari. The Brazil boss must take the blame for most of what went wrong. Ask any Brazilian to name the nation's best goalkeeper and very few will say Julio Cesar, a player recently struggling at QPR. Then there was the absence of Atletico Madrid's in-form defender Joao Miranda and the clumsy handling of the Diego Costa case which saw Brazil lose perhaps their one world-class centre-forward to Spain. With Neymar out, Ronaldinho would have been useful too - even at the age of 34. He is a player who can provide a spark out of nothing - and Brazil have very few of those right now.

The five-man midfield was woeful as Oscar dropped deep and was unable to get the ball, Hulk lost possession and added little defensively, while Bernard did absolutely nothing to show why Scolari had chosen him to stand in for Neymar. Paulinho, meanwhile, looks a million miles from the player who shone last summer in the Confederations Cup.

In terms of personnel, in terms of tactics and in terms of man-management, Scolari got it all wrong. Brazil buckled under the psychological pressure of playing a World Cup at home and Felipao had called on the help of a psychologist as his footballers frequently broke down in tears, burdened by the immense weight of a nation's hopes and dreams.

Tomorrow they will need the psychologist's help and so, quite probably, will their coach after the saddest possible ending to a World Cup they were supposed to win.

Published: 3:21 pm Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Last modified: 8:18 pm Wednesday, July 09, 2014

TAGS: Germany world cup fifa Brazil Semifinal Neymar Luiz Felipe Scolari Thiago Silva

Leave your comments | Comment Policy
eDaily Star
BIT DEFENDER