This originally appeared on ESPN FC
After so many goals, there was only one description: Mineirazo.
This was not painfully dramatic like the famous 1950 defeat to Uruguay, but that was only because it was possibly worse: it was so humiliatingly excruciating.
The details of Germany’s 7-1 win – and the sheer numbers alone are so searing – remain difficult to register. It revealed so much that the first boos were not heard until the 44th minute, long after the fifth goal had been scored. It was as if that was how long it took for the utter shock to wear off, to realise just how bad this was. The dimensions to this defeat were as plentiful as Germany’s goals. Given the history, given the context, given the politics, this may well be the most stunning World Cup match of all time.
After a World Cup that Brazil had waited two generations for, they have only suffered a defeat that will take generations to forget.
The circumstances are almost cruel. The scale of the defeat certainly was. The competition Brazil have dominated and won more than any other country has also left them with their two most painful defeats.
They are of the type that very few victories can erode, that almost nothing can rectify.
Brazil now has so much to consider.
On their team bus for this World Cup, the message read: ‘Brace Yourself – The Sixth is Coming’. That took on dark tones. The game itself took on a scarcely believable hue.
There was no sixth trophy. There was only a 7-1 defeat. Read it. It remains shocking. Brazil will never want to look at it again.
And yet, as stunning as this event was, elements were not that surprising. The signs were there, especially from Brazil. As their campaign went on, it did not seem like they were building up to anything special, to that sixth trophy. Instead, it felt like they were just about keeping it together, that they were set to crumble.
In virtually all of their games so far, they came perilously close to the edge. Chile were inches from knocking them out, a frantic physicality was needed to eliminate Colombia.
The very fact it came to that in the quarter-final, however, revealed so much about this team. They never had the quality to win this World Cup.
By the end, too, the loss of their single world-class attacker in Neymar felt irrelevant. He couldn’t have prevented this. There was always the danger of it happening, that a better side would unravel them.
And yet, it’s still difficult not to think the hysterical reaction fed into the historic nature of this humiliation. The frenzy the entire country worked itself into saw the equal but opposite reaction on this pitch. Once the deeper problems were exposed, it all gave way.
Because, of course, Brazil are not this bad. They are not 7-1 bad. This was about something else.
This semi-final as an event was certainly something else.
Then, there is Germany. What a statement. The story is all about Brazil’s collapse, but they were the driving force – in so many ways. It was not just about the implosion of the hosts. Germany imposed that upon them.
Sure, Brazil’s awful defensive problems were the direct cause of that tone-setting first goal, as Thomas Muller plundered the ball into the net from close in.
Thereafter, though, the Germans brutally expanded the gap between the sides.
You only had to look at the interchange for the fourth goal, the emphatic finishes of the third and seventh, as both Toni Kroos hammered in one and Andre Schurrle powered in the next.
Before all that, there was Miroslav Klose’s second. What a situation in which to break a legendary Brazilian’s record. Ronaldo was forced to congratulate the forward for his 16th goal on national television, adding insult to injury.
The only question is whether such a ridiculously handsome win is actually healthy for Germany, whether they could have benefitted from a bigger challenge, whether this will blunt them.
After a semi-final against the most successful nation in World Cup history, that is an astonishing to say.
This was just an astonishing event.
This originally appeared in the Independent
After such a defining statement from Leo Messi, and so much discussion about what was said between him and his manager this week, Alex Sabella put it best. “Having Messi means anything is possible,” the Argentina coach gushed.
One of the most remarkable elements of the playmaker’s brilliant winning strike against Iran, beyond its outstanding quality, was that a goal was beginning to actually look impossible.
Messi had in truth endured a poor game. Far from symbolising Argentina’s rise, he summed up their frustration. Iran’s blockade was brilliant. The goal – or even a fluent attack – never looked like coming.
It indicated much that, just before the decisive moment, Diego Maradona walked out of his seat to leave the stadium. So, as one legend exited stage left, another truly entered. Messi also looks set to dominate this stage. He will rightfully dominate all reaction. How could someone not after such a sensational stoppage-time winner?
This was the type of moment that adds to legacies, that typifies what he is there for and what he is as a player. If one definition of genius is conjuring something from nothing, this was the perfect display.
That is all the deeper because this was far from a perfect performance, with a whole lot of nothing in it.
In some ways, it reflected what Messi has become over the past two seasons. One of the enduring images of the game – before the glory of his late goal and celebration – was the playmaker strolling about, not all that energised.
It is also a sight increasingly common in the 26-year-old’s club career. He is no longer the sonic blur of energy he used to be when Barcelona were at their peak between 2009 and 2011. There is a much greater languidness to his game. Some would call it laziness. At the end of Barca’s disappointing 2013-14 season, Messi’s low mileage stats became an increasing topic of debate.
It was argued around Camp No that this is all a further consequence of the overbearing influence and ego Messi is developing. It was something that came under further scrutiny with Argentina in the last week, as discussion has grown about exactly whose decision it was to change formation back to 4-3-3.
The difference is that Messi still tends to show why he may have developed that ego on the occasions when he decides to do something.
He can go from a heavy afternoon to a lightning storm in an instant. The burst of acceleration remains devastating. The touch is still immaculate. The finish… well, it was a work of art.
It also came after very little work from Messi, but few were going to pick up on that afterwards. Javier Mascherano was only going to praise him.
“That is what Messi has,” the midfielder said. “On the day he is not so involved in the play, he appears and does that.”
“That” was a glorious curling strike into the far corner of Alizera Haghighi’s previously unimpeachable net, and all as 11 Iraniandefenders amassed in the box, and the clock ticked well into stoppage time, with his team badly needing it.
“As soon as I got the ball at the end, we were all in attack,” Messi said of the goal. “Obviously, I was very happy with the strike. Then I heard people screaming and smiling, and it was wonderful of course.”
It was not just of the great goals of this World Cup. It was a great World Cup moment, of the type the history of the tournament is all about.
This may well become Messi’s tournament. His performance could set the path for Argentina’s campaign: underwhelming start, patchy displays, before growing and finally coming to glory at the end.
It is certainly possible, especially with Messi there.
This report originally appeared in the Independent
There was only more laboriousness. Substitute Santi Cazorla attempted to control the ball in a dangerous position but only succeeded in falling over it.
Spain have fallen from their perch. One of the greatest sides of all time have suffered one of the most dismal endings.
Spain: Casillas; Azpilicueta, Martinez, Ramos, Alba; Busquets, Alonso (Koke 45); Silva, Iniesta, Pedro; Costa (Torres 63)
Chile: Bravo; Medel, Silva, Jara; Isla, Aranguiz (Guitierez 63), Diaz, Mena, Vidal (Carmona 85); Vargas (Valdivia 84), Sanchez
This originally appeared in 8by8 in December 2013