Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader to symbol of national humiliation

It was not 1950. It was so much worse. And if tales of the Maracanazo and the defeat to Uruguay in the Maracana have meandered through history and lapped up against this tournament, then stories of what happened here in Belo Horizonte will never go away. This was a meltdown of simply unimaginable proportions. Indeed there’s a strong chance that a six-minute spell that saw the proudest, most successful footballing nation ever concede four goals was the most astonishing thing almost everyone in the ground had ever witnessed. Or ever will witness. And there’s a strong chance this was the most astonishing thing to ever happen in the game. Consider that for a moment and the dimensions of it all.
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader to symbol of national humiliation
This is not a good Brazil side, and they are not even good semi-finalists in the context of a flawed World Cup. That was well known beforehand but even that cannot explain one of the greatest mental collapses in sport. The squad for all their issues had used a strong emotional bond to hold themselves together through testing moments as they scraped and clawed at win after fortunate win, but here that same emotion tore them apart in the most violent way imaginable.
From 1-0 down and reeling to 5-0 down and unable to process what they were seeing, the mood in the stadium turned. Pockets of violence broke out and by the time they had reached the half-hour mark, chants about President Dilma Rousseff overtook the football. That is how big a story this is as within Brazil the ramifications of the result will go way beyond football.

Yet prior to this, they were a side that could do no wrong. Before their games television networks within the country had taken an hour or so to talk over helicopter footage of the team bus snaking its way to a stadium. On Tuesday, the roads were lined with fans trying to just catch a glimpse of a group that were still their heroes despite their wretched style and limited substance.
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader to symbol of national humiliation
David Luiz looks on as Germany celebrateAnd if Brazil’s stubbornness and physicality at this tournament has been personified by the performances of David Luiz, who has led the team both in body and in mind with efforts that seemed beyond him, then he symbolised the single worst night in Brazilian football history here, too. From lacking concentration for the first goal as he lost position and Thomas Müller, he simply seemed to give up thereafter. He reverted to type, meandered forward and could not get back. In fact for goals three, four and five he did not even try to get back as Germany pinged the ball around before slotting into the net. The images of him standing and staring, startled, at what was happening are what many will take from this.

Luiz was not helped by those around him for sure. Germany shredded Marcelo down their right over and over, Fernandinho will never get over what his display and Dante looked out of his depth. But so much rested on Luiz, as coming into this game he and Oscar were always going to be the making or breaking of the side. They will have to live with that even if they might never recover from it.

Before kick-off, for the former Chelsea defender, the hope was that he would not drift back into the shadows that are synonymous with his club career. And for the current Chelsea player the hope was he would emerge from the shadows that have seen him – despite so much promise and potential – disappear across the five games before this.

Without the suspended Thiago Silva, Luiz had to restrict his natural urges to attack and hold the line and hold the team’s nerves like he had done so well up to on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, without the injured Neymar, and with Bernard and Fred in the line-up (two players who made their names in Brazil’s third city) Oscar had to rediscover his natural urges and taunt and thrill with pace against a Germany side whose very obvious flaw was at the back.

Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader to symbol of national humiliation
Substitute Andre Schurrle scored twiceThe feeling was that even if Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger had started to control the tempo and the ball, taking the pressure off those behind them, and Philipp Lahm had brought about a higher level of assuredness with his switch to right-back, Oscar would still be key to unlocking a place in the final. You got a sense that is what coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was talking about on Monday when he said: “We must respect them for everything they’ve done, are doing and the way they play. We can’t respect them though without showing the way we play. It’s a very well-defined manner and despite our opponent playing in such a manner we’ll do the things the way we do them and in doing that we’ll cause difficulties to the German team. We’ve our standard and our gameplan, I won’t say what that is but we’ve defined it on our practice with the team. We respect them but we’ll try and make them respect us also.”

But few even here can respect them after this, in fact the best you can muster is pure pity. In terms of their gameplan, Oscar, despite his late goal, was never allowed a chance to get into proceedings because of Luiz and the others at the back, and before he could even try and find his rhythm his country had been humiliated on a night that will never be forgotten. This is a pain that will never go away.
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