We dream of football and the world is full of dreams

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Dusk at Belo Horizonte and we say goodbye to Brazil

Photo: daily telegraph

A dream was broken today by seven German goals. Brazil will not win a World Cup at home. They lacked hope, passion, and desire. The tears of the fans were heartbreaking to watch. This was their tournament, and they would not see it go their way.

Another Brazilian dream was lost sixty-four years ago. Brazil was in a World Cup final in front of a home crowd at the newly-built Maracaná stadium in Rio de Janeiro. They needed only a draw in their final game to win the Cup. But Uruguay scored twice and won in the famous Maracanazo.

That day still haunted Luiz Felipe Scolari and his team today. It was a ghost of the past that remained unshakable to brazilians, both those that remember it and those who have heard the legends. 

Brazil went to face Germany without their talismanic player, Neymar. They were also without Thiago Silva, their main defender and team captain, due to yellow card suspension. "They will still win," said o fenomeno, Ronaldo. But they didn't.

And it wasn't a galant affair. It wasn't a 1-0 or 2-0, not even a 4-1, the score Brazil handed Italy in the 1970. The final score was 7-1. The defense was shredded apart. David Luiz simply watched goal after goal go past Julio Cesar. Dante was hopeless. Maicon was nowhere. Marcelo looked distraught in disbelief. The crowds were silent.

There would be no comeback. No miracle. A storm over Rio de Janeiro blackened the ESPN studios in Copacabana and, likely, many places where brazilians huddled together to watch their beloved team. Lighting struck in the form of cruel reality for the Brazilian national team.

For those of us that remember past World Cups this was a first. We watched in awe as wave after wave of German attacks undid the Seleçao. They never went out like this. Not Brazil. For the tournaments I witnessed they won two in 1994 and 2002. In 1986 they lost in penalties, in 1990 it was Maradona and Caniggia, in 1998 and 2006 it was the French, and in 2010 the turn was Holland's. Acceptable score lines. Even the 3-0 in the France 98 final versus the home nation was acceptable. Ronaldo was ill, it was a bad game, France had Zidane. 

Today's score was a reminder, perhaps, that today's game requires more than stars and glamour, more than mythical stadiums, more than the 12th man. There is a bottom-up approach in Germany when it comes to the sport where the talent is both nurtured and expanded upon. The Bundesliga is, in reality, built to outlast other leagues. 

For Brazil this is a chance to look in the mirror and ask why things went wrong, why they relied on just one player, why they thought that the crowds alone would win the games for them. It didn't do so in 1950. Today wasn't even the final. It was the step before the final, the point at which you show you belong on the stage. 

The Brazilian dream has shattered once more. The Pentacampeones will win again, for sure. But it will be decades before they can try to lift the trophy on home soil for the first time.

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