Column: Disaster's branding iron burns Brazil anew

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 8, 2014 at 8:24 pm •  Published: July 8, 2014
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BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Even for an 84-year-old tournament drenched in history, Germany 7, Brazil 1 — you read that right — will be remembered as one of the craziest World Cup matches ever. Because of the humiliation it inflicted on a great footballing nation, as one of the most painful to watch, too.

Brazil, the once mighty Brazil, the Brazil that gave the world Pele, so many other great players and yellow-shirted delight, throwing itself like a herd of lemmings off a cliff. Not just a team self-destructing, but an entire nation's hopes and World Cup joy turning to vinegar and flushing down the drain on live TV before millions of disbelieving eyes around the globe.

"We realized that they were cracking up and took advantage of it," said Germany coach Joachim Loew.

Even the half-time score — Brazil 0, Germany 5 — was something no sportswriter ever expects to have to record for posterity. No nation has ever done anything like this to Brazil, not once in all the decades that Brazilians have played and refined football, making it futebol and making it better.

Germany's goals rained in so thick and fast it became a struggle to keep up. The second and then, a minute later, the third goal had the effect of a stun-gun on Brazil. Its players were laboring under such pressure to win their home World Cup. And when it became clear in that minute that they would fail, that pressure became like poison on their brains and legs. They became like ghosts. In the next five minutes, they let in two more.

For Germany, it was like shooting fish in a barrel. No shot could miss. Everything worked. With Brazil gone AWOL, they had the place to themselves. In the crowd, fans' tears cut streaks through their yellow and green face paint. An elderly man clutched a plastic imitation World Cup trophy as though it was a life preserver, as close as Brazil will come to the real thing this time

"Truthfully it's very hard to explain the unexplainable," said Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar. "A blackout happened that no one was expecting."

Just like their parents and grandparents, this generation of Brazilians now has a football trauma of its own to haunt them. In 1950, when Brazil last hosted the World Cup, Alcides Ghigghia scored the cup-winning goal for Uruguay in the final match against Brazil, leaving a mark on the nation's psyche as deep and painful as a branding iron.

There were five heart-breakers this time: Thomas Mueller, Toni Kroos and Andre Schuerrle, who got two each, Sami Khedira and Miroslav Klose. Klose's goal added insult to injury by taking his career World Cup total to 16, leaving him alone with the record that previously belonged to a Brazilian, Ronaldo.

When the final whistle blew, not a moment too soon, delivering its score that read like the bill on a cash register, the record book had been shredded. This made losing 3-0 to France in the 1998 final — Brazil's previous worst defeat (measured by goals, not pain) in the World Cup — feel like a mosquito bite in comparison.