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Brazil dreams shattered
BELO HORIZONTE—Brazil’s dreams of making a return to a World Cup final in the Maracana were shattered yesterday as Germany inflicted on the hosts one of the most remarkable defeats in the 84-year history of this competition. Tears flowed like water in Belo Horizonte as before even half-an-hour had gone, Brazil were 5-0 down, and the final scoreline was 7-1, eclipsing their worst-ever defeat, 6-0 to Uruguay back in 1920 before the World Cup had even begun. Two goals for Toni Kroos and Andre Schurrle, plus one each for Thomas Muller, Sami Khedira, and record-breaking 16th World Cup goal for Miroslav Klose saw the visitors delirious, while Brazil begins a period of soul-searching such as never before. Germany will go into Sunday’s World Cup final at the Maracana to face Argentina or Holland on the highest of highs.
The pain was so intense for Brazil, who had arrived at the Estadio Mineirao intent on honouring their missing talisman, Neymar. They tried to use his absence as an inspiration, parading slowly onto the field linked in crocodile formation, with stand-in captain David Luiz and goalkeeper Julio Cesar clutching Neymar’s shirt as they belted out the national anthem. The opening period was always going to be a testing one for Germany, with the partisan crowd baying every Brazilian touch and tackle. Marcelo was cheered wildly after sending a 25-yard shot skimming a couple of yards wide, but there was a frantic feel to it, as though the Neymar emotion had spilled over into a frenzy, with Germany capable of punishing any slackness. That almost happened early on when Mesut Ozil delivered a sweet cross for Khedira to volley only for his shot to strike Kroos. A break by Khedira then led to the corner from which Germany took the lead in the 11th minute. Kroos took it, and it was straightforward enough but Brazil’s marking went into meltdown and Muller slotted it home low past Julio Cesar while David Luiz beat the ground in frustration. Marcelo burst into the Germany penalty area and a pinpoint sliding tackle by Philipp Lahm stopped him in full stride but Brazil’s high tempo only served to make them vulnerable on the break and Germany made them pay again, this time Klose becoming a World Cup’s record-breaker.
A delightful passing move saw Muller lay the ball off and although Julio Cesar stopped his first effort, Klose buried the rebound. Two minutes later and it was 3-0, Lahm’s cross going all the way across the area for Kroos to slam home left-footed from 18 yards. Another two minutes, another goal. From a goal-kick Fernandinho was robbed by Khedira who unselfishly played in Kroos for a virtual tap-in for 4-0. By this time Brazil fans were in tears and a few leaving their seats, but the German machine marched on mercilessly. Less than half an hour gone and the hosts were 5-0 down. Mats Hummels strode forward and Ozil, who had come alive in this match, set up Khedira for a first-time finish. All over the pitch, in the stands, the executive box where Fifa president Sepp Blatter watched, in the Fan Fests on the beaches and those tens of millions tormented on TVs throughout Brazil, there was sheer disbelief. Scolari’s half-time team talk must have been all about rescuing some pride, because it was a different Brazil who came out for the second half. Neuer had been barely tested in the first half but only he prevented Brazil getting on the scoresheet, first defying Oscar and then Paulinho.
Julio Cesar had to be at his best to tip over Muller’s curling effort from 25 yards, but Germany were not to be denied and Lahm’s penetrating cross was struck home by substitute Schurrle. It was Chelsea midfielder Schurrle who piled on the agony, a breathtaking finish into the top corner after pulling down Muller’s instinctive cross. Ozil should have made it an embarrassing eight but slid wide when through on goal before Oscar’s crisp finish in the last minute provided a glimmer of light in the darkness. If Brazil wanted to erase the memories of that 1950 final defeat in the Maracana they have done so: this pain would have been infinitely more excruciating.
• This is the first time a team has scored seven goals in a World Cup semifinal.
• First World Cup game with eight or more goals since Saudi Arabia vs Germany in 2002 (0-8).
• No team had previously conceded five or more goals by half-time in a World Cup semifinal.
• This is Brazil’s biggest defeat in World Cup finals history, surpassing their 3-0 loss to France in the final in 1998.
• There were just 179 seconds between Germany’s second and fourth goals.
• Thomas Muller has scored 10 goals and provided six assists in 12 World Cup matches.
• Germany were 5-0 up faster than any other team in World Cup history (29 minutes).
• Germany netted as many goals in this game as they had in their previous six World Cup semi-finals (1982-2010).
Lineup & Substitutions (6)
12 Julio César, 23 Maicon, 06 Marcelo, 17 Luiz Gustavo, 04 David Luiz, 13 Dante Booked, 20 Bernard, 05 Fernandinho (Paulinho - 45’ ), 09 Fred (Willian - 69’ ), 11 Oscar, 07 Hulk (Ramires - 45’ )
01 Neuer, 16 Lahm, 04 Höwedes, 07 Schweinsteiger, 20 Boateng, 05 Hummels (Mertesacker - 45’ ), 06 Khedira (Draxler - 76’ ), 18 Kroos, 11 Klose (Schürrle - 58’ ), 13 Müller, 08 Özil