Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Brazil - the end of a long era

There are times in football when a defeat is more than a defeat - it is a disintegration that, over time, becomes a recurring nightmare that changes how that nation thinks about football.

England against Hungary in 1953, Scotland against England in 1961, Netherlands against Germany in 1974 and - now - Brazil against Germany.

These results don't have to be huge reverses. They don't even need to be games where the loser is comphrehensively outplayed. Netherlands lost narrowly in 1974 and weren't outplayed. The result, though, echoes down the generations. English football still smarts at the name 'Hungary'.

Brazil were humiliated last night - outplayed, out thought, out fought, and thrashed hopelessly at home in a World Cup semi. It is difficult to think how it could have been worse - in the final, perhaps, or against Argentina. It wasn't the booing that would have hurt but rather the Brazilian fans applauding German passing late on in the game. That is the moment that Brazil changed forever.

Some have criticised Hansen for his comments that 'this was a low point' for the game. He was right. Not in terms of quality - Germany were magnificent and it  is scary to think Draxler, Schurrle, and Gotze on the bench (and Reus elsewhere) - but because the idea of Brazil is important to the game and that idea has been destroyed. Those who cherish that ideal will feel low today even if you are applauding the German magnificence - they were as far from the stereotype as Brazil were. The Germans were as brilliant as the Brazilians were woeful.

They are supposed to be joyous, supposed to play a certain way, supposed to be brilliant. They were rotten and wretched last night. They were leaden. They couldn't pass, couldn't tackle, couldn't organise themselves and - at points - looked as if they didn't know how to play the game. These are Brazilian players who play in some of the top sides in the world and they were amateurish.

Many will note Brazil haven't really played like Brazil since the Socrates, Eder, Falcao, Zico and Cerezo team of 1982. I was born in 1982. They haven't played as we feel they should in my lifetime. There have been great players and there have been very fine teams from the men in yellow but when did they really make the heart sing? When did they play differently from the rest of the world? No. The last truly Brazilian team was 1982.

Going forward young fans will not think of the Brazilian greats even the recent ones like Ronaldo and Kaka or the current ones like Neymar. They will just think of them as what they are: a team with a stellar history and the occasional mesmeric player. They will be remembered as a team who lucked and tricked their way to a semi-final where they were shown to be a sham. It is sad for those of us who enjoy the idea of a Brazil but this humbling has been a long time coming.



dearieme said...

I gasped. Then I grinned. Eventually I guffawed. I blame the ref who allowed these buggers to kick the coffee boys out of the world cup; I abandoned that game on the grounds that it ain't football if there's a foul every 45 seconds.

7-1, 7-1, 7-1 ... serves 'em right.

P.S. The Germans were impressive, though, especially in midfield. Sixteen world cup goals for the old chap - how's that compare with "world-class" Rooney?

dearieme said...

I watched the whole of that Dutch-Argie borefest in hopes that Messi would do something. Bah!

I hope the Krauts gub them.

dearieme said...

I joined the Neth-Braz game for the last five minutes. Saw one goal. The replays of the first two goals amused me: Luiz in particular gave a stinker away.

In the discussion afterwards Hoddle was again good - I liked his remark to the effect that Luiz had many merits as a footballer, but they were playground merits: there's no position in a professional football team that he could fill. A bit of hyperbole, no doubt, but you can see what he means. Brazil should perhaps have tried him as a centre-forward: I'm normally pretty sceptical about playing people out of position, but if the alternative is Fred .....

Wright addressed Hoddle repeatedly as "Gaffer", which I rather liked, but then muddled which players Brazil had fielded. Is Mr Wright quite well?

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Rob Marrs said...

Wright would have served under Hoddle, no, during the Nineties? That's what I took the gaffer to mean.

Hoddle actually spot on re: Luiz. He's everything a footballer should be - strong, quick, good on the ball, good in possession - but there isn't a natural position for him.

Part of me thinks it would be best to play him in the Gerrard role for Liverpool - not quite a defensive midfielder but not quite a box to box midfielder either. This would allow him the space to see what was in front of him and gallop into it/pass through it without causing problems.

It just goes to show how good Terry at Chelsea and Silva at Brazil have been in marshalling him in. Without them he didn't know what to do.

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Two of the best things happening in this World Cup; The USA showing great strides in making the game more popular and the Brazilians brought down to earth.

Joao said...

Agree on most of the things, just don't think that the last great Brazilian team was in 82. 94 and 2002 the squads were amazing as well. In 94, Brazil had Romario at his best form, Bebeto, Branco, Taffarel, Rai, Muller, Mazinho, Zinho... 2002 - Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Denilson, Marcos, Dida, Lucio, Kaka...

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