SAO PAULO — Brazil have been blamed for not being attacking enough since the World Cup started but it was their once admired defense that will carry the can for Tuesday’s incredible 7-1 loss to Germany.
Brazil have never conceded seven goals in a game and it took them the last year and 16 previous matches to let in that amount, thanks largely to the solid central defensive pairing of Thiago Silva and David Luiz.
Silva was missing in Tuesday’s semi-final through suspension but the same word could have been applied to the players who did take the field at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte.
Germany scored five goals in a first-half humiliation of the hosts and then added two more after the break before Oscar got a consolation goal at the death.
“Five goals in 18 minutes. It’s clear that they were shocked and didn’t know what to do,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew.
That analysis was as good as any.
Brazil were lackadaisical and slow from the kick off and even a defense that featured players from European giants Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, AS Roma and Paris St Germain looked shell-shocked in the face of repeated German attacks.
They screwed up the basics, whether it was marking at corners, tracking back with attackers, or talking to each other when playing the ball out of defense.
Fullbacks Marcelo and Maicon were slow and easily dispossessed on the flanks, and the positional sense of central defenders Dante and Luiz was shocking.
Luiz let Thomas Mueller get away from him to sidefoot home the opening goal from a corner in the 11th minute, a mistake that TV Globo commentator Ronaldo called “infantile.”
It was all downhill from there, with the Germans scoring four goals in six minutes to end not just the game but Brazil’s World Cup dreams.
“We just blacked out,” said Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
He accepted responsibility for the embarrassment and much of that must be down to his choice of defensive midfielders.
If the back four was awful—and several times they were flailing on the ground when the ball hit the net—they were not helped by the pair in front of them—Fernandinho and Luiz Gustavo.
Fernandinho, who plays for English champions Manchester City, had a nightmare, failing to cut out a cross-field ball for the second goal and losing possession to Toni Kroos for the third.
His despair as he hung on to the goal net after the third went in was one of the day’s most memorable images and he was taken off at halftime.
His replacement Paulinho was only marginally better but it was much too late by then.
By the time Germany substitute Andre Schuerrle got their sixth and seventh goals in the second half, Brazil appeared to have given up. Marcelo looked beat on one wing and Dante on the other while keeper Julio Cesar put up little resistance.
When all was said and done, it was Brazil’s first defeat in 15 games and their first competitive home loss since 1975, as well as their heaviest ever defeat.
Julio Cesar perhaps summed it up best: “Honestly, it’s hard to explain,” he said. “You can’t explain the inexplicable.