“What happened? How did this happen?”
The complete and undeniably ruthless performance Germany displayed against Brazil bordered on cruelty, as many of the distraught faces of the Brazilian faithful can attest, live on camera for the world to see.
A child biting a cup, tears pouring down his face. An elderly man clinging dearly to a replica version of the World Cup trophy, having no doubt witnessed the triumphs of his heroes in the past. The crushed hopes and dreams of a nation longing for some kind of respite in the midst of political and economic upheaval.
Well, it’s rather simple, really.
This was a classic case of a host country feeling a sense of entitlement and a sense that an optimistic fate was assured. The representatives of the Brazilian national team played as if a victory was written in the stars, simply by virtue of having our most beloved tournament hosted in their magnificent country. It was naive. And Manager Luiz Felipe Scolari allowed them to think this way.
Rather than training for the match against Germany, Scolari opted to let his charges rest and recuperate. Training days were cut short and tactical nuance kept to a minimum. This is the second biggest match you could ever face before you can even proceed to biggest of them all, and rather than preparing the team for the task at hand, he allowed them to take it easy. While on the surface, it makes sense to give your players a break, after all they have endured to get this far, it was obvious this was not the correct decision in hindsight.
What makes this apparent was the complete lack of defensive discipline along the Brazilian back-line. Players were routinely out of position, communication seemed non-existent (perhaps as a result of missing out on Thiago Silva), and they were repeatedly beaten by the efficient one-touch passing of the German offensive machine.
To make matters worse, whenever Brazil did get forward, they had a complete lack of ideas on how to do so. It got so bad that Marcelo and David Luiz had no choice but to get involved into the attack, leaving even more spaces open for Germany to exploit. Regardless if Neymar’s tragic absence was the catalyst for the stunted Brazilian attack, the blame should be placed on the manager in this instance.
The manager is responsible for the selection of the 23 men who get to take place in this tournament. The manager is responsible for the 11 players on the field. He is also held responsible for how those 11 players on the field operate, interact, and are tactically setup.
Losing Neymar and Silva isn’t an excuse, there was more than enough quality on that field to get the job done. And even then, there were call-ups that should have been well deserved that Scolari failed to bring into camp. Where was Felipe Luiz of Atletico Madrid? Where was Lucas? And Marquinho? Surely Alexandre Pato deserves a look over Fred (who practically made Brazil a 10-man team each time he was on the field)? Such failed oversight by Scolari is in my opinion, to blame.
Through it all, you just have to give Germany credit for doing what they were suppose to do. If the roles were reversed, you can be sure Brazil would have been just as ruthless, felt bad, then tried to tone it down in the second half just as Germany claimed to have done.
Germany played with conviction, purpose, and were absolutely fearless in the face of millions wishing their doom. While I feel Brazil shot themselves in the foot, logic triumphed over emotion. The Germans were calm and collected, never phased by anything Brazil attempted to do, and in stark contrast to the Brazilians, their back-line was near pristine save for one bout of miscommunication that resulted in a goal for Brazil that can hardly even be considered a consolation.
All in all, It is not that Scolari is a bad manager, the man obviously has a World Cup to his name. It’s that he seems to have become out of touch with what was necessary for Brazil to be the best they could’ve have been in front of their home crowd. Perhaps a managerial shakeup is in order, as harsh as it is.
Brazil, as a national team and a country can still be optimistic, however. Despite the 7-1 loss, they still retain the record for most World Cups won, with five. They still have some of the greatest youth systems in the world, continually pumping out exciting future prospects that will soon dazzle and amaze all who watch. They also still have a wonderful and vibrant nation that loves the sport as much, if not more, than any other nation in the world can claim to do so.
Watch out for Brazil in 2018. I think they will be back, and with a vengeance.