Brazil’s 2014 World Cup did not end as hoped. In fact, it ended in about the worst way conceivable. The Seleccao lost 7-1 at home Germany. We’ll spare attempts at historical parallels. This was, all told, the worst loss in Brazil’s history. It was the worst loss in World Cup history. The effort put forth was amateurish and embarrassing. That’s what Germany does to San Marino or the Faroe Islands.
This was an ordinary team, not an ordinary Brazil team. Neymar is among the world’s best. Thiago Silva, while no longer in “best defender in the world” form remains formidable. The rest of the squad, as we found out without them, was average at best.
Brazil had no striker. Not just no Ronaldo or Romario. No one even passable. To find a less imposing duo than Fred and Jo one has to look at teams such as Japan and Honduras. Their midfield could not pass to hold possession. They did a poor job covering the back four. Their defense did everything one could want, except defend. Where was $80m, No. 1 Castrol Index center back David Luiz during Germany’s opening barrage? That’s before we get to Julio Caesar, who is barely a professional goalkeeper at club level in 2014, much less an elite one.
Discipline and organization can overcome a talent deficiency. Brazil showed little of either, even when winning. They had little plan with the ball, beyond booming it forward and trying hard. They often looked inept and scrambling without it. The Germans were better and better organized. They could handle Brazil’s bravado and physicality. The Brazilians marauded forward gamely at the match’s start and got eviscerated.
Talent and tactics are only part of winning the World Cup. As England find out every time around, much of it is mental fortitude. The team that wins does not feed on emotion. It tunes it out, focuses and executes in a professional manner. Players do the routine things with precision. They avoid rash errors. That’s what it is and this Brazil team never had it. Brazil were like an uncontrolled train surging forward, clinging tenuously to the rails. When they hit their first major bump, they went flying off the track.
If Brazil’s 2010 team were 11 Dungas. Brazil’s 2014 team were 11 David Luizs belting the anthem. Many expected Brazil to be undone at some point in this tournament. The only surprise here was how emphatic it was.
The only positive for Brazil: Neymar was not on that field. Nor were the 10 men we expect to be playing alongside him in coming tournaments. Time heals wounds more quickly in the Internet era. But this loss is the sort that can stain, fester and alter careers.
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