Match of the Decade? Brazil 1-7 Germany


“Football is an unpredictable game. All the statistical evidence reinforces the observation that on any given day the worst team can win, that favourites are more vulnerable than in other sports, that the place for the random, the chaotic and the unexpected is surprisingly large in football. To gauge if not the ultimate fate, then at least the spirit and feel of the nation by the performance of one’s national football team is a risky choice for a culture”

David Goldblatt, Futebol Nation

It happened at 3-0. When Toni Kroos rolled the ball into the Brazilian net for a third time in 24 jaw-dropping minutes of World Cup football. Vanessa, the beautiful girl sat next to me burst into tears. Not the fake fingernail into mascara gloop you see every week on a reality show. It was a spontaneous well of emotion – all hope lost, the realisation of a dream shattered.

Brazilian fans voice their frustration as their team goes 0-5 down in the first half (Picture: Asif Burhan)

If I remember nothing else from this World Cup, I will remember that. Anyone who is truly passionate about this stupid game, will have cried those tears because everyone loses more than they win. The World Cup is the greatest event that humankind has ever produced precisely because it takes hopes of victory and produces a river of tears, a mountain of broken hearts. 31 losers and one winner. Until the next time, when that winner will inevitably lose as well.

But Brazil? Brazil have lost many times. On penalties, in acrimony, due to individual mistakes, but never like this. Humiliated and in their own country. I could reel off the records set last night in the Estádio Mineirão, but it would be trite. Suffice to say, the World Cup in 84 years, has not seen a result like it. Nothing to compare to the Mineirazo.

Host nation Brazil went into the semi-final without their star striker Neymar (Picture: Asif Burhan)

At half-time, I apologised to Vanessa. I’m not sure why but I’m English and that’s what we do. Together with her husband they had travelled around the country watching many games. She was complimentary about the English in Manaus who she said “never stopped singing”. They had tickets to the final but were now not sure if they’d go. She was worried what such a defeat might mean in her country. The crowd had already turned their anger towards Dilma Rousseff. The President had not deigned to appear at any of the games since being booed at the Opening Match, now she would be handing the trophy over at the Final to a team that wasn’t her own.

Later, Vanessa came to my rescue as three Brazilians in front of us mocked their team by singing German songs throughout the second half antagonising the Brazilians behind us who, led by a young girl, charged at them. A beer was spilt over me and stewards piled in. A cameraman and the military police appeared. Instead of throwing out the troublemakers, the stewards only created a barricade. I didn’t even see the seventh German goal.

Those who say they’d rather lose a tight 1-0 are mistaken. Of all the ways to lose, Mexico’s defeat to Netherlands was for my money the worst way to lose, defeat snatched from the hands of victory. A final score of 7-1 leaves no room for doubt. At the end there was the extraordinary sight of Brazilians cheering the final German goal and joining in with the chants of “Super Deutschland”.

Miroslav Klose’s 16th World Cup finals goal made him the all-time record goalscorer in the competition (Picture: Asif Burhan)

Afterwards, like me, many Brazilians went into the German section to join in their celebrations. Girls danced to songs they had no idea the meaning of, photos were taken, hands were shaken, everlasting moments shared. Football fans are not stupid egomaniacs, every team has a limit and the Brazilians knew they had reached theirs. Beaten by a better side.

As I walked back to the bus station, inevitably getting lost on the dimly-lit back streets, I saw that even in Brazil, the world kept turning. People hung out of bars solemn and sharing black humour. The episcopal church was having a late-night service and the streets were strewn with homeless people trying to sleep amidst the din.

Brazil is still the same country it was a month ago. It has had some memorable nights to look back on but it will wake up today to all the same qualities and problems it has always had. Belo Horizonte was overloaded with military police hours before the match, who’s fully-armoured officers barricaded government buildings and stopped and searched local youths in full view of the watching public. It seemed overbearing and unnecessary.

In contrast, around the stadium, the mood was joyous beforehand. Brazilians danced and frolicked in the sunshine. Their new Maradona “coke-sniffer” song once again to the fore. A blow-up sex doll of Lionel Messi was tossed around. A man skilfully painted head to toe in green, provoked chants of “ulk-ee, ulk-ee” everywhere he went.

Now all that joy which travelled south from Fortaleza is lost forever based on the outcome of one game of football. How sad. Yet, as a country moves on, it will never forget the moment all that expectation evaporated. It was the moment Vanessa Arnez Floris cried for a nation.


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