(Muller 11′, Klose 23′, Kroos 24′, 26′, Khedira 29′, Schuerrle 69′, 79’/Oscar 90′)
Hosts Brazil were handed out a stark reminder of their current state of affairs as a far-from-perfect Germany team played out the perfect 90 minutes of World Cup football to win 7-1 on an unforgettable night in Belo Horizonte. The game was effectively over in a goal-laden 20-minute spell in the first half which saw Germany quickly scoring five goals and all but sealing the win.
Brazil and coach Luis Felipe Scolari had much to ponder over replacing the injured Neymar, and he went with local boy Bernard. The team setup remained the customary 4-2-3-1, and the approach was largely expected to be similar. Dante replaced the suspended captain Thiago Silva, as Maicon once again started ahead of Dani Alves.
Germany named an unchanged XI from their quarter-final win over France, as Miroslav Klose looked to usurp Ronaldo’s record of 15 World Cup goals. He remained the only survivor from the last time both teams met at the World Cup, in the 2002 Final. Germany were a loose 4-2-3-1, with Thomas Mueller expected to make lateral as well as vertical movements behind the Brazil defence.
Energetic Brazil start
Brazil actually had the better of the initial play, and had Germany firmly on the backfoot for the opening 10 minutes. They had the early possession and tempo, and had much of the run of play. Brazil’s plan was to force Germany into making mistakes early on with aggressive pressing and higher positioning, a plan that had taken Brazil so far, but Germany weren’t panicky, and played the ball out of the back with ease. Full-backs Marcelo and Maicon were playing as auxiliary wingers, creating overloads on the wings. Luiz Gustavo and Fernandinho took turns at becoming the third center-back with David Luiz’s occasional rush of bloods and the high positioning of the full-backs.
Brazil were so intent on attacking early on that they had little to no control of the game. They passed the ball out to the wings as quickly as they could, and the early tactic of overlapping full-backs playing quick one-twos barely produced an end-product. David Luiz was even more direct; his long diagonal balls from the back exposed a flaw in the German defence, but Luiz was erratic enough and Germany were intelligent enough to convert this into Brazil’s advantage. Luiz’s raking balls behind the German back-line were dealt with easily after the initial hiccup.
Germany counter-attack and the early goal
Germany were remarkably calm despite the initial Brazil pressure, and showed their technical prowess in passing the ball out of tight areas. Brazil’s early impetus played into Germany’s hands, and they counter-attacked with much poise. Germany under Joachim Loew has thrived as a brilliant counter-attacking side with newer designs focusing more on possession-play and control of the game. Last night proved that Germany remain an eternally enjoyable counter-attacking side, as they relished the gaping holes in the central areas.
Germany’s early goal meant that they could draw Brazil forward more, and exploit the spaces left behind. It was the perfect scenario for the Germans, and they fully merited the final scoreline. Mueller and Oezil had plenty of space to run into, even Klose stuck tight to Luiz in the early exchanges. Brazil were focused more on the wide areas, and were reluctant to play the game through Oscar, their chief creative man. Oscar received very few passes in the opening period, as Brazil passed up the chance to have more control with Oscar not pulling strings.
Brazil’s gaping hole on the left
Thomas Mueller was offered too much freedom on the right. It was Brazil’s most susceptible zone throughout the match, and wasn’t at all helped by Marcelo’s ill-advised forays into the Germany defensive third. Hulk offered surprisingly little defensively, as Germany basically ran rings around Brazil. A look at Germany’s attacking third passes till the 30th minute tells the story; they found the obvious weak zone in Brazil’s defence and exploited it to the fullest.
Two of the goals came from simple Philipp Lahm square balls from the right, and showed how defunct Brazil’s defence was. Germany simply had more ideas on the ball once they took the lead.
The match was effectively over once Germany scored four goals in 400 seconds, and it was left to just witness the sorry faces in the crowd. Brazil showed some fight in the second half by changing their shape and having more bodies in midfield. Fernandinho was taken off for Paulinho while Ramires came on for Hulk. Brazil shifted Oscar to the right, and consequently, had more physical presence about their midfield. Manuel Neuer was near unbreachable, and Germany closed out the game with two late Schuerrle goals. Brazil, too, had a scant solace with Oscar’s 90th minute goal.
An extraordinary game, there wasn’t much in the game tactically once Germany were in cruise control. Brazil were left to rue their overly attacking approach without any end-product, while Germany profited from Brazil playing into their hands. Germany had lots of space down the middle as Brazil focused more on width, and all their goals came from simple and intelligent attacking as well as basic mistakes from Brazil. Miroslav Klose’s 16th World Cup goal to better Ronaldo’s eight-year-old record was one of the many significant statistics from the game.