Humiliating loss? Yes. Need for drastic change? Not really.
There won’t be a lot of positivity coming out of Brazil camp after “The Machine” stomped on “The Little Canary” to the tune of a 7-1 throttling in the first semifinal of the 2014 World Cup, especially considering the prospects of neighbors Argentina hoisting the trophy in Brazil’s tournament remain in tact for at least a few more hours.
But Brazil should listen to Luis Felipe Scolari’s big picture comments after the brutal beatdown.
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Yes, it’s the “worse day of his life” but it doesn’t call for a complete overhaul of Brazil’s system or mentality (the actual players’ mentality? Probably).
“I don’t agree that we’re behind from a strategic standpoint. This was my third loss. But this was the worst loss,” he said.
“Should we have to reinvent our team after one game? Half this team will play at WC 2018. At least 13, 14, 15 of them will be in 2018.
“What happened today had little to do with how we had been playing. We lost control… that’s not normal but it happens.”
Fact 1: Big absences
Let’s start with the obvious: Brazil was missing two of perhaps the Top 10 players in the world. While that doesn’t excuse a six-goal drubbing, the absence of Thiago Silva and Neymar clearly sapped the strength of a mentally-weak side that was far from in form.
Phrased differently: when you’re holding your injured superstar’s jersey in the Starting XI photo and wearing hats lamenting his absence, things aren’t off to a positive start. This was a tough injury to a soccer play, not the imprisonment of a political hero on unjust grounds.
Strategically, Brazil had to contend with factors that would’ve made it difficult to top any strong team, let alone a humming machine like Germany. Neymar was their only elite finisher, and was on form, while Thiago allows David Luiz a lot of freedom (something we’ll see shine this year at PSG). Without them, Scolari was already swimming upstream.
Fact 2: Still really good
Anyone remember the 2013 Confederations Cup last summer in Brazil? The host nation thumped the competition with a 5-0 record and 14-3 in goals. They beat Japan 3-0, Mexico 2-0, Italy 4-2, Uruguay 2-1 and Spain 3-0. That’s not so bad.
Their U-23 team finished second at the 2012 Olympics, losing only the final to Mexico in claiming silver. They’ve lost once since August, a 1-0 friendly loss at Swizerland, and are fine.
Except for that whole 7-1 thing.
Fact 3: Scolari chose… poorly (or had choices limited)
Bizarre in a match without Thiago and Neymar that Scolari would omit veterans Ramires and Dani Alves from the Starting XI, and opt against Willian and Paulinho.
But the bigger point is that in a tournament where intensity and form mattered, here is a list of players the manager did not choose for the roster (whether via inability or simply selection). Some weren’t coming off banner years, while others certainly were:
Rafinha (Bayern Munich)
Miranda (Atletico Madrid)
Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid)
Lucas Moura (PSG)
Sandro (Tottenham Hotspur)
Alexandre Pato (Sao Paolo)
Rafael da Silva (Manchester United)
Fact 4: Weird run-up
Every host nation deals with the hassle of preparing for a major tournament without any intense qualifying bouts, and Brazil’s schedule was a bizarre one.
Brazil tried to schedule some intensity between the Confederations Cup and the World Cup, but you can’t replicate desperation. The style Brazil played allowed them to crush Australia 6-0 and Portugal 3-1. They topped Chile 2-1 in a November friendly and beat Panama and Serbia easily in two run-up matches to the World Cup.
But when the ball kicked for the tournament, they never found their stride outside of Neymar. The Croatia win was controversial, the Mexico draw showed no finish, Cameroon may have been throwing the dang thing and both Chile and Colombia can argue that they deserved wins.
This tournament was in Brazil, but it was not their property.
Brazil got destroyed by Germany on Tuesday. They also hadn’t lost at home in the better part of four decades. Don’t send them to the scrap heap just yet.