David Miller admires but regrets the depth of Germany’s World Cup semi-final mastery.
Germany’s victory against Brazil was to be expected. Here was a team with all the
traditional hallmarks of German football: organisation, discipline, self-belief, physical
application, tactical shrewdness, limitless willpower. We have seen it so often.
I had filed a story beforehand predicting Brazil’s defeat. Having attended every
previous World Cup final tournament since 1958, the emergence of Brazil in supreme
artists in Sweden, my opinion is that this year’s was the least talented Brazil side since
1966. Then, the ageing remnant from Stockholm was fragile. Pele, already a legend, was
shamefully kicked out of contention in the first round by Bulgaria and Portugal.
Scolari’s present side was brimful of ideas, yet Neymar apart and now absent
injured, lacked the mercurial touches of the past to inflict serious damage: artistic minds
but gardener’s tools.
Ironically, in the first ten minutes against Germany, Brazil exhibited some promising,
fluent moments such as we had not yet seen, but when the first goal struck home they
mentally wilted. Germany’s destruction was clinical and unrelenting, the nature of the
game when one side is in charge and justifiably so.
Yet, regrettably, dominance became domineering. For Brazil to lose by two or three
goals would have been a justifiable measure of the gulf between the teams. However, the
tide of slaughter that followed during the next brief period was assassination, not just of
this team, but of the reputation and dignity of a great football nation. That was sad.
Moreover, one or two German players began to laugh as the goals tumbled in, as if
to say this was all too easy. To mock the opposition, the home crowd, not just in the
stadium but across the country, was unfair, rubbing salt in the wound. Victors as well as
losers need to be composed and dignified.
The anxiety must be what this deflation of national morale will do to Brazil’s self confidence,
already fractured, in preparing for their next huge responsibility: hosting the
Olympic Games in two years’ time. What Germany achieved, admittedly against some
catastrophic defending, was a brilliant victory, but a long-term threat to the temperamental
competence of an Olympic host nation.
This article was republished with permission from the editor and publisher of the Sport Intern, Karl-Heinz Huba.