The Telegraph
Thursday , July 10 , 2014
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Scolari’s plan was suicidal

Watching a match had never been such a painful experience as it was on Tuesday night when Brazil collapsed against Germany at Belo Horizonte. As the Brazil players cried openly with faces buried in their hands and weeping spectators left the stands well before the end, I too, felt a kind of emptiness that cannot be described in words. Full marks to Germany for their extraordinary showing but such spineless display by the players from soccer’s dreamland was difficult to accept.

Emotions apart, Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari would have to take the blame for the 1-7 humiliation, their worst in the tournament’s history. I cannot imagine that a man of Scolari’s calibre would be involved in such miscalculations prior to the start. To his bad luck, everything the Germans hit landed in goal, leaving no escape route for Brazil.

Why did the Brazilians take such a carefree attacking style from the beginning, that too when Neymar was missing? Knowing well that the pitch was slippery and the ball was travelling faster than normal, Scolari’s boys never made any attempt to hold the ball for a longer period and gauge the situation for the first half an hour. It was a suicidal strategy to adapt against a team which plays the best passing game in the world.

Scolari knew that Thiago Silva, his best defender, was not in the playing XI. Did he expect Fernandinho to once again succeed with similar kind of physical play that he showed against Colombia?

Did he not realise that while Colombia had only one James Rodriguez, Germany had too many talented players from Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich? Fernandinho’s replacement, Paulinho, was no better and could do little as Germany were already 5-0 up when he came in. I felt sad for David Luiz, who tried his best but found no support.

But then, why blame Scolari alone? The Brazilians would be in no position to explain why they conceded five goals in a span of 18 minutes. Their highly admired defence featured players from Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, AS Roma and Paris Saint Germain. They looked absolutely shell-shocked in the face of relentless German attacks. I don’t accept the Brazilians became emotionally fragile because of the burden of expectations.

The Germans also played for their shirt and did a wonderful job. They won purely on the basis of footballing skills. Brazil faltered in the basics — their markings were poor during corners, their recovery was horrible and they looked like a bunch of novices in the attacking third.

I must point out that Joachim Loew’s level-headed approach to the match was one of the main reasons for the German triumph. Unlike Brazil, who tried to play the long ball too early in the match, Loew decided to go safe and simple with 4-2-3-1 tactics.

Mesut Ozil and Thomas Mueller stuck to their good runs on the wings. Despite being sharp in attacks, the Germans never forgot about their defensive duties. I was amazed by their self-control as Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira were alert in the middle.

Even when the Germans were up by five goals, Schweinsteiger did not allow himself to be carried away and remained in his position. Loew’s biggest achievement was that he was able to inflict the self discipline in his players, an area where Brazil cracked up completely.

I cannot say confidently that Germany will win their fourth Cup but they are definitely ready for a fight. A team which can bulge the Brazil net seven times in 90 minutes should go down in the history as one of the best ever.