It’s over. For Brazil, the World Cup is over. It’s rather hard to say the words. Harder still because Brazil didn’t just lose. They were demolished. They were destroyed. They were ripped to shreds, picked up and dumped in the trash can right in front of everyone who loved them. Then, as a final measure, the can was set on fire.
The players were in tears, the fans were in tears, the coach was shell-shocked, and so were people all around the world. This was beyond the realm of reality. If you couldn’t sleep, you were not alone. If you got up in the morning and checked the official score once again, you were not alone. If you refused to believe it, you were not alone.
Going into the match, the heaviest defeat ever suffered by the Brazilians against Germany was a modest 2-0 loss way back in 1986. But after the 7-1 defeat they suffered at the hands of a ruthless Germany last night — the old record seems like a win.
Former Brazil star Juninho perhaps gave the most damning assessment while speaking to BBC: “Germany taught us how to play football.”
“It will be difficult to recover and some of them I don’t think will be back to wear the Brazilian shirt.
“Germany played like we like to play. We need to sit back and see what’s happened with Brazilian football – something is wrong.”
Some might argue that this was just one poor game. It cannot and should not have an impact on the legacy of Brazilian football which was built over the years by generation after generation of brilliant footballers. Five World Cups — Brazil still stands alone.
In reality, Brazil stood alone; not because of the number of trophies they have won but because of the way they won those trophies. There was a charm in their play; a freedom; a vision… not just of winning but of joy. In this World Cup, they chipped away at that vision until the bare bones of an unforgiving reality remained.
Brazil’s footballing legacy is lost now. As Juninho says, ‘something is wrong.’
They don’t play the Brazilian way anymore; they play a European style; the stylists have given way to crudeness of players like Luiz Gustavo and Fernandinho; the fluid movements have given way to false bravado.
Close your eyes and think about Brazilian players: Garrincha, Didi, Domingos Da Guia, Pele, Socrates, Zico, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Kaka come to mind. All stylish. All classy. All typically Brazilian. The no-look passes, the trickery, the effortless running, the nut-megs. They were all there.
Of this team, perhaps only Neymar can lay claim to that legacy. And that itself is a shame. They are torn between European methodology and Brazilian expression — they ended up nowhere.
The bigger challenge for Neymar will be to find a way to preserve his Brazilian style of play. At Barcelona, he is part of a system and he can’t play with the freedom that he is afforded by the Brazil set-up. It is the same for all the big stars of the Brazilian team — almost all of them play in Europe; almost of all of them are expected to play differently.
You can’t play the ‘Brazilian way’ unless you are you are playing that way… day in and day out. It is the advantage Germany have and Spain had. For club and for country, they play the same way. For Brazil, though, it means a loss of identity. It also means that they are not as different from other teams and hence easier to counter.
Scolari had clung on to Neymar as if his life depended on it. But can you ever remember a Brazilian team that depended so much on just one star?
This defeat will change the way Brazil sees football and prepares for it. It will transcend the sport. It will be remembered as a game that changed things forever. There is plenty of talent in Brazil; there always will be. But this isn’t just about talent, it’s about having a sense of belonging.
Last night, the Brazilians fans were cheering every German pass with chants of ‘Ole.’ It was almost like they had written this Brazilian team off as not being one of their own. It was almost like they had accepted the German team as one of their own.
One doesn’t know what is worse but Brazil lost not just a match… they also perhaps lost their link to the glorious legacy of ‘Jogo Bonito.’ And if that doesn’t hurt then god alone knows what will…