World Cup 2014: Winners and Losers from Brazil vs. Germany Semi-Final
It was unexpected in its arrival, horrific in its unraveling.
On Tuesday at Estadio Mineirao, Germany inflicted a record defeat upon host nation Brazil, winning 7-1 at the semi-final stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
First, it was Thomas Mueller scoring from a corner kick; then the floodgates opened.
By the time the Blitzkrieg of Belo Horizonte was complete, five German players had found the back of the net, and Miroslav Klose had set a new record for World Cup goals.
Individually and collectively, there were many winners and losers from the match. Following are just a few.
Winner: Joachim Low, Whose First-Half Management Was Impeccable
Predictably, Brazil came flying out of the gate in Belo Horizonte.
David Luiz, in particular, seemed inspired by the occasion, and, as the host nation poked and prodded the Germany defense, it seemed only a matter of time before a goal came.
But that German defense—considered suspect by some prior to kick-off—held firm as manager Joachim Low’s outfit soaked up the early pressure. Even their pressing game was limited to their own side of the pitch as they dealt with the inevitable, early Brazil attacks.
Then they won a corner, and, thanks to some abysmal defending, took the lead against the run of play.
Naively, Brazil continued to push forward, and, seeing their chance to inflict further damage, Germany created a series of turnovers that produced three more goals in the span of three minutes.
The game, as a contest, was already over.
"Low took an injury-hit, off-form squad to the WC," Bleacher Report's Clark Whitney tweeted. "Took time to figure out his best XI and for those he trusted to hit form. Vindicated today."
Loser: Fernandinho, Who Gifted Germany a Pair of Goals
Fred—the much-maligned striker—was withdrawn to a chorus of boos in the 69th minute, but the real culprit of Tuesday’s debacle was Fernandinho, who twice gifted Germany an opening to score.
His first concession allowed Toni Kroos to set up Miroslav Klose’s record-setting 16th World Cup goal; his second put Kroos, himself, through to score.
While Fred and Hulk may end up bearing much of the blame for the defeat, Fernandinho was easily Brazil’s worst player on Tuesday.
Winner: Sami Khedira, Who Was an Early Difference-Maker
Lost in the headlines will no doubt be the vital contribution of Sami Khedira to Germany’s 7-1 win.
He didn’t score a record-breaking goal; in fact, he found the back of the net just once.
But, when Germany saw their moment to inflict maximum damage, it was the Real Madrid midfielder who led the way.
By pressing effectively and making smart, instinctive runs into useful space, Khedira was able to both cause and make the most of a handful of first-half turnovers—two of which led directly to goals.
Loser: David Luiz, Who Was Simply Appalling
David Luiz began Tuesday’s match like a man on a mission.
Wearing the captain’s armband in Thiago Silva’s absence, the Brazil defender spearheaded a handful of attacks into the final third—his curly hair blown back by his pace and energy.
But over-exuberance, as well as a good deal of incompetence, got the better of the Paris Saint-Germain centre-back, who was either out of position or simply a statue for most of Germany’s goals.
“Apologies to everybody; apologies to all the Brazilian people,” he offered in his post-match remarks, according to the BBC. “It is a very sad day, but also a day from which to learn.”
Winner: Manuel Neuer, Who Was Still Exceptional
There was a brief spell after the restart in which Manuel Neuer had to be at the top of his game.
No, a concession or two from the Germany goalkeeper likely wouldn’t have affected the result, but he nevertheless snuffed out any hope of a Brazil fight-back.
The pair of saves he made on Paulinho were particularly important, and, after Oscar scored Brazil’s lone goal, it was clear how frustrated Neuer was that he wouldn’t be keeping a clean sheet.
Loser: The Brazilian Fans, Especially Those at the Stadium Who Were Heartbroken
Imagine being one of the fans inside Estadio Mineirao on Tuesday.
Not only a supporter, but a ticket-holder who had shelled out considerable funds for the experience.
More than 58,000 fans were left devastated in Belo Horizonte, although, to their credit, they concluded the day by cheering each succession of German passes.
Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari could only beg their forgiveness.
“My message for the Brazilian people is this: Please excuse us for this performance,” he said, as per the BBC. “I’m sorry that we weren’t able to get to the final, and we’re going to try to win the third-place match.”
Winner: Miroslav Klose, Who Broke Ronaldo’s Record
The World Cup has a new all-time leading goalscorer.
In the 23rd minute of Tuesday’s semi-final against Brazil, Miroslav Klose tucked home his record 16th World Cup goal, surpassing the mark previously set by Brazilian football legend Ronaldo.
Loser: The Prognosticators, Who Couldn’t Have Predicted This
Let’s be honest. A Germany victory wouldn’t have been anything of a shock, nor would have a Brazil win.
But nobody could have predicted a 7-1 massacre—a Blitzkrieg of Belo Horizonte that embarrassed both the Selecao and the home nation as a whole.
Many attempts at post-match analysis will be similarly futile, as the extent of Brazil’s defeat was down to mentality and emotion as much as anything else.