While there was a general feeling that this Brazil team were not the greatest, few would have anticipated the dramatic collapse that unfolded in their semi-final clash with Germany.
The loss of Neymar to injury and Captain Thiago Silva to suspension weakened a team that had failed to impress in previous rounds. David Luiz, the subject of a £50million transfer from Chelsea to PSG before the World Cup, took over the captaincy and was in confident mood following his spectacular free-kick in the quater-final victory over Colombia.
The team had vowed to win it for Neymar and they sang the national anthem proudly ahead of the biggest match of their careers. Brazil were on top in the early skirmishes but the game changed with virtually Germany’s first attack. Luiz inexplicably allowed Thomas Muller time and space from a corner kick and he gleefully accepted the gift, slotting the ball home to put the Germans in front.
Brazil’s reaction to falling behind was that of a headless chicken. Whatever game plan that Phil Scolari had devised was replaced by something usually seen on the school playground. Luiz and Marcelo seemed to believe that they were given the freedom to roam, charging at the German backline more in hope than expectation.
They may have got away with this approach against a lesser side but not Germany. To the well organised German machine, Brazil were like lambs to the slaughter. Without Neymar, their attacks had no real purpose and frequently came up against a stone wall. With Luiz and Marcelo left high and dry, Germany could break at speed and rip the Brazilians apart.
This they did with glee, scoring four goals in six minutes to rack up an astonishing 5-0 half-time lead. The goals were not spectacular but they didn’t need to be. Germany had got behind the Brazilian backline and could virtually pass the ball into the net.
The game was long gone by half-time and the second half was an embarrassment for all concerned. Even the Germans seemed embarrassed at the plight of their opponents and hosts but could not resist adding another couple of goals. Had Ozil not wasted yet another opportunity, the final score would have been 8-0 and not 7-1 with Oscar scoring almost apologetically on the breakaway.
It is the first time that Brazil has ever lost a World Cup semi-final and matches their heaviest defeat of all time. Had they lost 1-0, they would be lamenting the absence of Neymar. Instead, they are now looking at rebuilding a team that was always struggling to live up to its name.