Where do we begin when all of Brazil is mourning a most horrific end? Should we then start with the rows of broken chairs at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, trampled down by the angry feet of the home fans after the Selecao, their Selecao, were humiliated 7-1 by Germany in the World Cup semifinals, their World Cup semifinals?
Or could we begin even earlier at half-time, where women, children and grandparents, all draped in yellow and all leaking face-paint, howled out of the stadium well after Brazil had conceded five goals in the first 29 minutes? Or is an apt starting point the blink-and-miss period between the 23rd and the 26th minute of the game, where the hosts went from 1-0 down to 4-0 in all of 179 seconds?
Maybe we should go much further back and commence this piece with a splash of history. Sixty-four years ago, almost to the day, first-time World Cup hosts Brazil lost 2-1 to Uruguay in the final at the fabled Maracana, where close to 200,000 spectators were in audience. For 64 years, a nation is said to have lay patiently in wait for redemption.
Yes, Brazil went on to become the most successful World Cup side in this period by winning five trophies. But the Maracanazo, or the Maracana Tragedy, had not yet been given a suitable burial, something that could only happen when they hosted the World Cup again. That time was now, in 2014. At least it was till 5pm local time on a most terrible Tuesday.
One way or the other, Selecao’s Batch of ’14 did manage to exorcise the ghosts of 1950 from collective memory. This, unfortunately, they did by giving rise to the Mineiraozo — a tragedy that almost makes the Maracanazo seem comically insignificant. Such was the devastation with which the Germans brought down the sledgehammer on a fractured team and its grieving nation today.
The Mineiraozo has also ensured that Brazil ended its World Cup campaign without once stepping foot in the Maracana.
A golden generation of Germans will be going there, to take on either Holland or Argentina. The Brazilians, or whatever little is left of them, head to Brasilia to a match aptly known as the Loser’s Final on Saturday. However, for the scarred Brasileiro, the man on Brazil’s now deserted streets, the World Cup ended well and truly on Tuesday itself.
Wherever we begin, the end result is just the same. Never had a team conceded seven goals in a World Cup semifinal before. It just happened to be Brazil, and lest we forget, in Brazil. Incidentally, in Brazil the Selecao hadn’t lost a match in 39 years and 62 games — including the continued…