It is not often that a mighty force disintegrates into nothingness but when the mighty do fall, they fall the hardest.
Five time champions of the World Cup, Brazil entered the tournament looking to conquer the world in their own hallowed grounds of the Maracanã. With the hopes of a billion people on their shoulders, the likes of Neymar and Thiago Silva were tasked with the responsibility to win the golden trophy on home soil. And at a quick glance, things were indeed going according to plan until the hosts met the ruthless Germans.
At a quick glance, things were going according to Scolari’s plan. The hosts had topped their group, eased past the Round of 16 and then the quarter-finals. Just a game away from booking their place in the finals, the ‘favourites’ had cruised through the tournament and their fans couldn’t be blamed for dreaming of a 6th World Cup.
But a close analysis of the team reveals that Brazil were definitely not the favourites of this tournament. With the advantage of looking things in retrospect, it would actually not be inaccurate to say that the Selecao had actually over-achieved by reaching the top 4 of this tournament. Yes, the same Brazil that has struck fear in the heart of their opponents for decades, were actually only a mediocre team caught up in a frenzy cooked up by sensational journalism and emotional nationalism.
Did the Brazilian Defenders Miss The Flight?
A quick look at Brazil’s squad for the World Cup highlights all that went wrong with the team in the semi-finals and for that the blame must lie squarely upon Scolari. The man tasked with the burden of guiding this young team into the finals was remarkably short-sighted in his squad selection as he left out the likes of Miranda and Filipe Luis, both of whom who had a brilliant season in the run-up to the World Cup. Scolari was arrogant to believe that a back four consisting the likes of Marcelo, Dani Alves and David Luiz could have resisted any decent team in the World Cup. These 3 defenders, though supremely talented while on the offensive, are extremely vulnerable while defending and their lack of positioning and self-control left the defence thoroughly exposed. And Scolari should have seen that coming. But it seems that the manager was blinded by last year’s Confederations Cup’s exploits. It is fairly obvious that Luiz, Alves and Marcelo are an added advantage against teams like Cameroon, Chile and Colombia; teams that will be cowed into defending throughout the game. But any decent team, leave aside the mighty squad of Germany, would be smiling at such a defensive line-up and will shape their team accordingly, to catch the Brazilians out of their position and vulnerable.
Scolari should have also prepared for the eventuality that his captain Thiago Silva could be unavailable for a game or two during the World Cup. Hence all the more reason to select defensively strong players in the squad. A Filipe Luis and a Miranda in the squad would have been better equipped to handle Germany than a back four comprising of an ageing Maicon, out of form Dante and defensively inept Marcelo and David Luiz.
Where was the Samba Magic?
Apart from these tactical faults, the biggest reason why Brazil failed this World Cup because they just didnt have their usual magic touch that had so often lit up and brought entire stadiums to their feet. This Brazil squad was painfully ordinary and with the exception of Neymar, completely devoid of the silken touch that has been Brazil’s trademark over the years. The likes of Hulk and Fred in a way epitomized this Brazil national team and their mediocrity. And Scolari’s insistence on starting the duo highlighted his dire predicament and the lack of talent in the country of Brazil. In a way, the host nation were rightly punished for Scolari’s arrogance in assuming that he could really win the World Cup with the presence of Hulk and Fred in the squad.
Questions will be asked as to why Coutinho was not included in the squad given his successful season with Liverpool and why Willian was repeatedly left out in favour of Hulk on the wings. The sentimental few might even demand as to why Kaka was left out given Brazil’s lacklustre midfield and it would perhaps not be a bad question to ask. The presence of Paulinho, Gustavo, Ramires and Fernandinho were supposed to anchor the squad in the midfield yet it was them that failed the team against the Germans. Repeatedly losing the ball cheaply and looking completely devoid of ideas, the defence and the strikers received no support whatsoever from the midfield.
Hence it will be fair to say that this disaster of a World Cup for Brazil was a collective mistake, starting right from Scolari who was tactically blind right down to the players who were just not up to the scratch. And this is precisely why it will not be inaccurate to say that Brazil over-achieved themselves by making to the semi-finals. This 7-1 defeat at the hands of Germany comes as resounding blow to the Selecao who were taught a cruel lesson in their own backyard. While there is no doubt that Brazil will bounce back from this humiliating defeat, this football loving nation will perhaps never be viewed with the same respect in the years to come.