Brazil’s World Cup ends in humiliation with 7-1 loss to Germany

EDITORIAL USE ONLYMARCUS BRANDT/EPA Germany shows no mercy against Brazil, scoring seven times en route to a historic 7-1 rout.

The proudest soccer team in the world was crushed on Tuesday before its own horrified home fans, as if it were some third-tier interloper from Asia or the Caribbean.

Brazil didn’t merely lose to Germany, it fell apart at the seams during a humiliating 7-1 semifinal defeat at Belo Horizonte. The Germans scored five goals in 18 minutes of the first half; four of those goals came in just six minutes — three of them within three minutes. After all the prematch concern expressed about the injured Neymar, it turned out that Brazil more badly missed its defensive stalwart Thiago Silva, suspended for this game after getting a second, silly yellow card against Colombia.

“Who is the coach? Who is responsible?” Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari told reporters afterward. “It’s me. The catastrophic result can be shared with the whole group, the players will tell you. But the choice, the tactical lineup, I did. So the person responsible is me.”

The one-sided defeat was historic in scope, the worst for Brazil since it lost, 6-0, to Uruguay in the 1920 South American championships. Oscar put in a final, meaningless goal in the 90th minute to avert a complete shutout, hardly a reason to celebrate.

No team had yielded five goals in the first half of any World Cup match since little Haiti collapsed against Poland in 1974. When things were completely falling apart for Brazil in those six wild minutes, commentators even began to resurrect the memory of Hungary’s 10-1 victory over El Salvador in 1982.

When it was over, emotional defender David Luiz sobbed into a camera and apologized to the Brazilian fans. “We hoped to bring joy to the Brazilian people who are suffering,” he said.

There was no joy in Belo Horizonte, on the beaches in Rio. The match was one-sided and tactically hopeless for Brazil from the start. While Germany surgically attacked the box with accurate through passes, Brazil could manage nothing more than a few hoof-and-chase Hail Marys. The Brazilians appeared uncharacteristically clumsy and a full step behind at all times. Then, in the 11th minute, Germany struck on a corner kick from Toni Kroos to a shockingly unmarked Thomas Muller, who very easily scored the 10th goal of his World Cup career.

From then on, matters deteriorated in a hurry, as fans inside Estadio Mineirao were first silenced and then driven to jeer their own beloved national team. In short order, and against minimal resistance:

Miroslav Klose, taking a pass from Muller, scored off his own rebound in the 23rd minute for an all-time record of 16 World Cup goals, one better than Ronaldo’s total.

In the 25th minute, Kroos scored with a left footer from the top of the box inside the left post. Kroos, left alone, then scored again from about 12 yards in the 26th minute, after an ugly turnover from Fernandinho. In the 29th minute, Sami Khedira finished off the five-goal blitzkrieg with a sharp, right-foot shot from 16 yards.

None of this was the fault of Julio Cesar, the Brazilian goalkeeper, who later asked the public for calm and perspective.

“Now it’s time to go home and think about it, to hug our families,” Cesar said. “There’s nothing more we can do about it.”

While nobody thought this was a great Brazilian side, the level of dysfunction in that first half was unexpected. The amount of space afforded the Germans, the Brazilians’ failure to close down attackers, was a complete shock to everyone. Brazil had never trailed in a World Cup match by four goals, let alone seven — certainly not at home, where the national team had been undefeated in 62 matches, dating back to 1975.

While Brazil briefly rallied after intermission, this was of course a hopeless cause. To rub salt in the open wound — and to remind everyone about Neymar’s absence — Oscar and Paulinho failed to finish very good chances early in the second half. Instead, Andre Schuerrle, yet again wide open, scored in the 69th minute, the first of his two goals in a 10-minute span.

The Germans’ brilliant performance launched them into their eighth World Cup final Sunday against either Argentina — a replay of the 1990 final — or against Holland — a replay of the 1974 final. Both those matches were won by what was then West Germany. The Germans’ dismantling of Brazil was also a reminder that the U.S. defensive back four had done a remarkable job maintaining its shape and discipline during a relatively tight 1-0 loss to Germany in the Group of Death.

In Brazil now, the horns stop honking and the fireworks stop bursting in air. There were real concerns after the match Tuesday that anti-FIFA and anti-government protests would reemerge, perhaps violently. German fans were asked to wait for security escorts to leave the stadium, for fear of retribution.

The Brazilians must play in a humbling third-place contest in Brasilia, as a prelude to the final.

“We’re going to continue working and honoring what our team is, playing for third place,” Scolari said. “Today, even when we were losing by 5, 6, 7, the fans were there supporting the players.”

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