The inflated hopes, beliefs and expectations of an entire nation were comprehensively shattered in 90 minutes of complete dominance as Brazil succumbed to a German side that ultimately trounced them in every department. The 7-1 scoreline was neither harsh on Brazil, nor flattering of Germany; instead, it was a true reflection of a one-sided battle that will forever humiliate all Brazilians involved. Considering that the 1950 Brazilian side who failed on home soil is still considered a social taboo in the football-loving country 64 years later, the horrors that ensued on Tuesday night in Belo Horizonte may just haunt the players for the rest of their lives.
Brazil (4-2-3-1): Cesar; Maicon, Luiz, Dante, Marcelo; Fernandinho (Paulinho - 45’), Gustavo; Bernard, Oscar, Hulk (Ramires - 45’); Fred (Willian - 69’).
Germany (4-3-3): Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Hummels (Mertesacker - 45’), Howedes; Schweinsteiger, Khedira (Draxler - 76’), Kroos; Muller, Klose (Schurrle - 58’), Ozil.
Over-attacking Brazilian full backs
One key factor to Germany’s victory, or Brazil’s loss if you prefer, was the incompetent defensive positioning of the Brazilian players, and in particular the full backs, Maicon and Marcelo. The side lacked a solid defensive shape, with gaping gaps left across the pitch, and when combined with a total lack of pressing in midfield, the German midfielders had the time and space to pick through the Brazilian defense with ease.
Germany continuously found joy when attacking through wide areas, and in particular the right flank, where Marcelo was consistently out of position, instead focusing his attentions on bombing forward with offensive intentions. Despite effectively playing as a winger, Marcelo’s contribution to Brazilian attacks was paltry, and was instead perhaps one of Germany’s best players, offering them an easy route towards goal with his non-existent defensive contribution. In all, it was a performance resembling of Wayne Bridge playing with one leg.
Germany were able to get in behind the Brazilian defense via the right wing so many times that it almost seems trivial to highlight particular occasions, but below are two examples of extraordinarily bad positioning from the Real Madrid left back.
On both occasions, Marcelo is not even within camera-shot as Germany pile forward, let alone in position, and Muller subsequently has an acre of space to attack. It should also be noted that these pictures are taken from when the score was 0-0 and 1-0, when there was still a competitive game on, and it seems simply amateurish that a professional defender who earns hundreds of thousands of pounds a week could put in a performance that an 8-year-old would be ashamed of.
Despite the frequency of which this happened, Marcelo remained seemingly oblivious to his mistakes, effectively giving Germany full control of the match as it soon became a matter of when, not if, Germany would capitalize in that area. Maicon was not much better with his performance, but the less mobile threat of Ozil meant that his defensive incapabilities were not exposed as clearly, with Germany instead focusing their quick counters to the right.
Marcelo’s bad day was made even worse with individual errors which led to several goals, most notably the second, where he is left five yards behind the defensive line, playing Muller onside. It is perhaps okay to take such a position if he is tight to the man, but he is not, and his fellow defender Maicon fails to track Klose’s run, allowing the German to grab his record-breaking 16th goal in World Cup finals.
Effective German pressing
Despite the completely one-sided scoreline, Brazil actually had their fair share of possession, only that it was completely limited to fruitless areas of the pitch by the efficiency of the German press in midfield, highlighted by the pass map below, which shows all Brazilian passes in the opening 40 minutes.
The numerous long red arrows highlight Brazil’s incapability to develop possession out of defense, instead being restricted to playing hopeful long diagonal balls which were generally dealt with comfortably by the German defense. Further supporting this point, the pass map also illustrates the amount of lateral passes (roughly 30 yards from goal, there are a large number of passes that go from side to side) that the Brazilian defense were forced to play as they struggled to get the ball out into an attacking area of the pitch.
Both these factors were controlled by Germany, as it was their pressing in midfield that forced these phases of ineffective possession for Brazil. The picture below highlights how the German midfield cut out all forward passing lanes for the Brazilian defense, leaving Gustavo (in possession) with only Dante to his left and Luiz on his right (out of picture) to pass to, hence the constant lateral, sideways passes.
Again, here is Luiz in possession in his own half, forced to go back to the goalkeeper due to a lack of options in more advanced positions of the pitch. Germany formed a 4-1-4-1 formation when out of position, with the second line of four (show clearly in the picture) forming a clear which the Brazilians struggled to get past. The only method of beating this press was by going over it, resulting in the continuous long balls from the back.
As a result, Oscar, who was playing ‘in the hole’ for Brazil, became increasingly frustrated with the lack of supply from the back, and was forced to drop incredibly deep to collect possession, shown in the picture below, thus limiting his influence in attacking areas where he is best.
Again, in the next picture, Oscar is forced very deep to receive the ball from the defense, and you can also see the Brazilian back three (Gustavo dropping in between the center backs) in a horizontal line, once again forced into only having lateral options when in possession.
So, as previously mentioned, the Brazilian defense struggled to develop play from the back into midfield, with Gustavo having to drop in between the center backs to collect the ball. However, when the ball was able to be played short into central midfield, the pass into Fernandinho, the central midfielder, it acted as a pressing trigger for the German midfield. This happened on several occasions; whenever the ball was played into Fernandinho facing the goal, it initiated a rapid press from a German midfielder, hoping to catch Brazil out mid-transition as they looked to move from a passive phase to a more attacking phase of possession.
This turned out to be successful on multiple occasions, most notably for the fourth goal, which is shown below. Dante plays the ball to Fernandinho, which Kroos immediately notices. He then quickly closes Fernandinho down, pressurizing him into a mistake, and leads to the fourth goal.
Again, in the next two pictures, when Fernandinho is about to receive possession facing his own goal, Kroos is immediately sprinting towards him to pressurize. In turn, this prevents Brazil from developing possession forward as it forces him to pass the ball backwards, which going back to the initial point, limits Brazil to possession in meaningless areas of the pitch, only able to get the ball forward with high passes over this German press.
David Luiz received heavy criticism in the aftermath of the match, but he was perhaps the only Brazilian player who looked to make things happen. Short passes into midfield were simply unavailable, and although a few long diagonal passes didn’t find the man, the ones that did began the only phases of play where Brazil actually got near the German goal in the first half.
Brazil lacked leadership or inspiration
The match was effectively over after half an hour, with Brazil trailing by a five goal deficit, allowing Germany to switch off and conserve energy for a while, waiting a whole 40 minutes before scoring another goal. Brazil did look brighter in the opening exchanges of the second half, with a 10-15 minute barrage on the German goal, but a combination of good goalkeeping and poor finishing, most notably Paulinho’s double chance which he really should have scored, kept the score at 5-0.
Had one or two of those chances gone in, there could have perhaps been a more exciting game at hand, and the failure to take those chances completely deflated an already drained Brazil side. Heads switched off and more defensive mistakes allowed Germany to score a sixth and seventh goal. By then, it was far too late, but what Brazil needed was a leader on the pitch to carry them back into the game after conceding the first, or even second goal.
Thiago Silva’s absence was noticeable, and with his leadership, Brazil may not have completely rolled over after Muller’s opening goal, or perhaps all they needed was a moment of pure genius from Neymar to give them a foothold in the match. Unfortunately for them, both aforementioned players were unable to feature, due to suspension and injury respectively, and none of the 11 men on the pitch had the mental strength and courage to bounce back from the early set-back of the German goal.
Even without their two best players, Brazil went into the game as bookmakers’ favorites and the absence of Neymar and Silva should not take away from what was a simply outstanding German performance which will live long in the memory.
Toni Kroos had a particularly majestic game in midfield, and so too Sami Khedira, who constantly broke the lines and connected play for Germany. Brazil were ultimately second-best in every aspect of the match, and it is a thrashing that will hurt the host nation for a long time to come.
It was a common fact that this is a weak Brazilian team for their high standards before this thrashing, and this result only reinforced what was already a popular belief. Scolari will be rightly questioned over his tactical decisions and team selection, with the omission of Willian a particular mystery, but all in all, they were simply outdone by a better team with better players.