Our man in Berlin, Daire O’Driscoll, discusses the aftermath of what was a historic German performance in Belo Horizonte.
The final scene from the 2007 film La Vie En Rose is something special. Edith Piaf, the subject of the film stands centre stage singing perhaps her most famous song “Je ne regrette rien” ( I regret nothing), as a montage of the pivotal and horrendous moments of her sad life play to the audience.
Piaf maintains that she regrets nothing, the irony being that she has plenty to regret; her life was entirely horrific. When the first semi final of the 2014 World Cup is immortalised on film, there can be no better soundtrack to the slow motion replays of each of Germany’s seven goals than Piaf’s hymn. For Brazilians, they have plenty to regret.
In German remembrance theory, i.e. how German people come to terms with their Nazi past there exists a phrase; Zwischen Traum und Trauma (Between Dream and Trauma), describing how many Germans felt after the fall of the Third Reich.
Brazil, a country relatively untouched by international conflict or disaster, often points to the loss on home soil to Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup final as the nation’s lowest moment. The Maracanazo, as it became known, was described, maybe overdramatically so by the Brazilian playwright Nelson Rodriguez as “our Hiroshima”. At least they can now forget that.
This game, the worst defeat ever in a World Cup semi-final, once again played in Brazil, is perhaps more traumatic.On the other hand, for Germany, this was dreamland. The demons of Yokohama 2002 banished. Scolari finally defeated.
If one were to look back upon the game, the writing was on the wall even before the kick off. As David Luiz and Julio Cesar hoisted a Brazilian shirt bearing the name Neymar Jr. aloft during the anthem, one could see that Brazilian minds were clouded by the teary eyed figure of Neymar.
At the end of the day, while it is always better for teams to be united, fraternal and friendly, they are professionals and should behave as if they have a job to do. If that Brazilian team rely on an injury to an important player for motivation, they do not deserve to be there. Simple as.
But in saying all this, it was Brazil who started the game better. Germany were guilty of repeatedly giving away position; Müller in particular. Fitting then that it was he who put Germany ahead in just the 11th minute. 1-0, Berliners took a breathed a sigh of relief.
“That will quieten the rabble” said one. Incidentally the goal, another from a set piece for Germany, was Muller’s 10th World Cup goal in just 12 World Cup games. Quite an achievement to say the least. None could have predicted that this statistic would be eclipsed in every manner.
The next 20 minutes were almost implausible. 2-0. “We can close the game out now”. 3-0. “They’ll find it very hard to come back”. 4-0. “That’ll be it”. 5-0. Stunned silence. What just happened?
Something momentous as it were, not only had Germany put five past Brazil, in Brazil, at the World Cup but Miroslav Klose had become the all-time top World Cup goal scorer, scoring his 16th goal at a World Cup and passing out a Brazilian in the process.
5-0 down at half time the Brazilians needed to make some drastic changes. Instead Scolari brought on Ramires, whom he had predominantly utilised as a defensive substitution throughout the tournament thus far. The proverbial writing was on the proverbial wall.
Interestingly, bookmakers were offering 200-1 for Germany to win 10-0; the same price that one would have gotten for 5-0 just 45 minutes previous. The second half must have been equally painful for the 198 million inhabitants of Brazil. When André Schürrle added two goals in the 69th and 79th minute the humiliation was complete. Germany had now scored so many goals that there was no longer space for the names and times on the score graphic that flashes across the screen after every goal.; more goals in 90 minutes than England had managed in two World Cups combined. All of this in a World Cup semi-final.
7-1 the final score. Something that nobody could even have fathomed just three hours previous. Brazil had just suffered their worst ever defeat in competition football at their own World Cup.
What transgresses from this game is worrying for Brazilians. The social glue that had held together a socially fractious nation had not just been undone; it had been obliterated. Even before the halftime whistle anti-government chants could be heard from the stands and reports of riots in Sao Paolo, the nation’s capital, surfaced on Twitter. Just what will emerge from the ashes of Brazilian football remains to be seen.
This could also be dangerous for Germany. While the scenes were not over jubilant, Germany have been here before, the sheer momentousness of a victory such as this can’t help but distract the 23 players and the coaching staff as well. 7-1 against Brazil might be enough for now, but come Sunday evening, it could all seem very bittersweet.
As the referee blew the final whistle, one German stood up, sighed and simply said “How about that for 90 legendary minutes”. Spot on.
Daire O’Driscoll, Pundit Arena.