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Brazilians struggling to explain World Cup loss to Germany

By AP - Jul 09,2014 - Last updated at Jul 09,2014

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Brazilians are having a difficult time trying to fathom how it all went wrong so quickly against Germany in the World Cup semifinals.

With the humiliating 7-1 loss still very raw for Brazil supporters, players struggled to find explanations for the country’s worst ever World Cup defeat.

Brazil conceded four goals in a seven-minute span and trailed 5-0 at halftime on Tuesday, and never had a chance to mount a comeback at the Mineirao Stadium.

The dream of playing a home final at the Maracana was obliterated, and players knew they were going down in history for the wrong reasons at their home World Cup.

“We are still trying to understand what happened,” right back Daniel Alves said. “I guess it’s football. In six minutes you can be eliminated and that’s what happened to us.”

Germany scored its first five goals by the 29th minute as Brazil’s defence self-destructed, shocking the crowd at the Mineirao and everyone else watching on television.

“It was a tough day,” Brazil defensive midfielder Luiz Gustavo said. “We started well, with everybody doing what they were supposed to be doing, but then all of a sudden we conceded the goals.”

Tuesday’s result equalled the margin of its previous worst defeat — a 6-0 loss to Uruguay in the South American championship in 1920. It was the worst World Cup loss ever in numbers, and probably nearly as heartbreaking as the home defeat in the 1950 tournament, the so-called Maracanazo.

“It’s difficult to explain,” Oscar said. “I don’t know what to say. All we can do is apologise. Nobody expected this.”

Left back Marcelo added: “We were in shock about what happened. We were going through our worst day and they [the Germans] were going through their best day.”

Although no one was making excuses, Brazil played without star striker Neymar because of an injury and captain Thiago Silva because of a suspension.

Silva said it was “almost impossible to explain what happened. It wasn’t the Brazilian national team that we are used to seeing”.

Bernard, who took Neymar’s spot in the starting line-up, said: “Nothing went our away. It was atypical.”

Brazil now has to play the third-place match on Saturday in Brasilia against either Argentina or the Netherlands.

After the loss, many Brazilians were strongly questioning whether holding the event was worth it, a bad omen for President Dilma Rousseff. She is campaigning for a re-election bid in October that many think could be made tougher by the football team’s poor showing.

“Like many Brazilians, I’m very, very sad because of this defeat,” Rousseff said as she took to Twitter to try to rally the nation. “I feel bad for all of us — for fans and for our players. But let’s not be broken. Brazil, ‘get up, shake off the dust and come out on top’.”

Pele said it showed that “football is a box of surprises”.

“Nobody in this world expected this result,” Pele posted on Twitter, already looking forward to the 2018 tournament. “We’ll get the sixth title in Russia. Congratulations to Germany.”

“It was a tragedy. Sad, very sad, the greatest defeat of all the history of the Brazilian national team,” wrote Tostao, one of Brazil’s forwards in the 1970 World Cup and now a sports columnist for the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper.

In Sao Paulo, thousands gathered to watch the match in the neighbourhood of Vila Madalena. Samir Kelvin clung to a street pole and loudly cried: “I have nothing left! I am Brazilian and humiliated I want to kill myself!” as another man nearby banged his head against a bar table.

Most heartbreaking for many Brazilians was suffering the country’s worst World Cup defeat on home turf, as it hosted the tournament for the first time in 64 years.

“It was embarrassing. They have some nerve with the Brazilian people. We deserved so much better,” said Manuel Alves, 58. “The worst was all the money spent, having so many other problems that need to be fixed.”

Brazil spent billions of dollars preparing for the tournament, and the high cost has ignited angry protests against the World Cup over the past year. Demonstrators have complained about so much being spent while the nation suffers from woeful public services.

Although few thought Brazil’s humiliating loss would spark renewed mass protests, it is sure to put a severely sour taste back into the mouths of the nation’s fans.

“I hope this can make people wake up and start thinking with their heads and not their emotions and that people translate the anger they are feeling at the ballot boxes,” said Antonio Hipolito, who works at a bookstore in a wealthy part of Rio but lives in a distant, hardscrabble neighbourhood.

“Football is just an illusion and we need to wake up to reality,” he said.

 

But many of the Brazilian players won’t be back in Russia to try to rebound from the historic home defeat. Only seven players will be 30 years or younger in 2018 — Marcelo, Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho, Willian, Neymar, Oscar and Bernard.

“We know this will be remembered for a long time,” veteran defender Maicon said.

Striker Fred, who struggled the entire tournament and was loudly jeered when he was replaced in the second half on Tuesday, said “our lives will be marked by this”.

There were also reports of violence breaking out right after the game with many buses being torched in the country’s biggest city. At least one store selling electronics and household appliances was sacked, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

The country’s leading football publication stated simply: “A day to forget.”

“It was the most shameful performance of all times,” said Almir Rogelio, 32, who was waiting at a newspaper stand for a friend. “I honestly woke up and didn’t even want to remember what happened.”

 

Believable reality

 

Germans awoke on Wednesday to discover the 7-1 demolition of Brazil in their World Cup semifinal was not a delightful dream but a scarcely believable reality.

The front-page headline in the country’s biggest-selling newspaper, Bild, read simply: “7-1. No words for it!”

The paper dedicated the next six pages to pictures of the Germany players scoring and celebrating, and marked veteran striker’s Miroslav Klose’s record-breaking 16th World Cup goal by offering readers a poster of “Miro Klose, Football God!”

When it finally got to words, it declared the team “immortal” and wrote: “This 7-1 is worth as much as a title.”

Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer, who won the World Cup as both player and coach, tweeted: “What was that? Hard to believe.”

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung broadsheet joined in the chorus of disbelief with the online headline: “Seven-one — is that really true?” And even the sober Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily added: “Unthinkable, inconceivable, incomprehensible.”

United States coach Juergen Klinsmann, who coached Germany to third place when the country hosted the World Cup in 2006, wrote on Twitter: “The best German performance ever in a World Cup!! Simply fantastic!! Now get the Cup JOGI and TEAM!!”

Germany coach Joachim Loew, widely known as Jogi, was Klinsmann’s assistant in 2006.

German President Joachim Gauck’s office said Wednesday that both he and Chancellor Angela Merkel would travel to Rio de Janeiro for the final against Argentina or the Netherlands, who were to play in the other semifinal.

The chancellor was also in Brazil for Germany’s opening match against Portugal last month, which it won 4-0.

Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert congratulated the team on what he said was “certainly an evening of football history”.

“All our fingers are crossed, including the chancellor’s,” he told reporters in Berlin.

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