By Mike Woitalla
Brazil has a new date to challenge July 16, 1950, as the worst in its soccer history.
Sixty-four years ago, the first time Brazil hosted the World Cup, it lost 2-1 to Uruguay in front of 200,000 fans in Maracana Stadium and a new word was coined to describe a sudden catastrophe: Maracanazo.
Now we have July 8, 2014.
Finally hosting again after collecting a record five World Cup titles, Brazil will not even have a chance to
play at Maracana. Its quest ended in Belo Horizonte, routed 7-1 by Germany, which will face the either Argentina or the Netherlands in the famed stadium on Sunday.
That’s correct, 7-1.
It was 1-0 in the 11th minute, 4-0 by 26th minute, and 5-0 at halftime. Brazil did not hit the net until the 90th minute.
Long before Oscar's goal, a new word for this kind of debacle was making the rounds: Mineirazo -- after the Estadio Mineirao.
The extent to which the Germans dominated and how pathetically the Brazilians played may not have been predicted by anyone. Never has a semifinal been so lop-sided. Brazil had not lost a home game in a dozen years. But signs that this Brazilian team would ultimately disappoint were clear throughout the tournament.
And when Brazil faced, for the first time, a pre-tournament favorite, just how flawed Coach Luis Felipe Scolari's squad really
was became painfully clear -- and go far beyond the absence of injured attacker Neymar and suspended central defender Thiago Silva.
Starting in the back. Julio Cesar may be the weakest goalkeeper at this tournament. He couldn’t even hold down the starting spot at second-tier English squad Queens Park Rangers, yet Scolari stuck with him when he found playing time for MLS's Toronto FC. Thomas Mueller’s volley for the first goal passed him within an arm’s length. Julio Cesar had both hands on Miroslav Klose’s shot but rebounded the ball right back to Klose for the second goal. The third goal, by Toni Kroos, was a rocket yet the kind of shot we saw Tim Howard save at this World Cup. But Brazil’s problems, of course, went far deeper than at keeper.
Identity crisis. Even before the Brazilians came out hacking against Chile and Colombia, they showed a disturbing dependence on brute force, such as against Mexico when Javier Hernandez was greeted by bone-crunching tackles when he came off the bench in the scoreless tie.
Before the semifinal, German coach Joachim Loew even made a plea for referee Mexico's Marco Rodriguez to crack down on the Brazilian tactic of disrupting the play. Thankfully, Rodriguez didn’t have to intervene as the Brazilians weren’t in fouling mode. Instead, their defense was sliced apart by the Germans, often with quick give-and-goes.
A struggling defense can be overcome by ball possession, but these Brazilians seemed incapable of stringing passes together, constantly missed their teammates, and launched the kind of hopeful balls that once represented the opposite of what the Brazilian style was about.
If there is a silver lining. That this is a loud wakeup call for Brazilian soccer to return to its roots, to strive for jogo bonito -- when their play was a delight to watch and they looked they were having fun ... to figure out why a country whose soccer was once universally admired can’t find a better center forward than Fred.
As for the Germans. Adding insult to injury, Klose goal broke Ronaldo’s all-time World Cup record of 15 strikes. Thomas Mueller moved within one goal of Colombia’s James Rodriquez’s six in the Golden Shoe race at this World Cup.
Sami Khedira, whose World Cup had been in doubt because of an ACL injury, scored and helped set up goals in his best performance of the World Cup. Toni Kroos scored twice. Mesut Ozil looked his sharpest so far.
The Germans are peaking at exactly the right time.