Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Belo Horizonte Massacre

Photo from
 I know I said I probably wouldn't post anything while in Ghana, but this is a can't miss opportunity.

Right now I'm working at a newspaper in Ghana called The Finder, and an edited version of this article will be published in the weekly sports edition. So, I'm basically an international superstar. Hold the applause, please. 

We all watched what happened last night (or afternoon for those of you in the States). We all looked on in disbelief as Germany chopped up Brazil, chewed them, spit them back out, then chewed them again. I don't know if I can find words to describe the game correctly. Germany annihilated, crushed, mauled, massacred, pillaged, and plundered Brazil. They continued their war against all Portugese speaking nations by beating the Brazilians 7-1, a few weeks after defeating Portugal 4-1 behind a hat trick by Thomas Müller.

Even the goal that Oscar drilled home in the 90th minute couldn't save face for his team and his country. The fans in the crowd even booed their own home team after scoring. Everyone knew that they had no business scoring a single goal in that game. In fact, Brazil deserved to score negative goals in that match.

Coming into the match, people were unsure about how Brazil could combat the losses of star forward Neymar, and their captain Tiago Silva at center back. Even with Neymar, the attack had been lackluster throughout the entire tournament. Last night was the time for Oscar, Fred, and Hulk to step it up now that they didn't have their skillful teammate to bail them out up front. And for the first 10 minutes or so, it looked like they were doing a good job at it. The Brazilians controlled the possession early, forcing the issue and getting the ball deep into the German defense. They were doing a poor job at communicating and connecting on their passes once there. In addition, center backs Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, who is of Ghanaian descent, were disrupting the host nation's offense.

Despite not touching the ball often, the Germans opened up the scoring with a very nice side-footed volley from Müller, giving him his fifth goal of the World Cup, putting him one goal behind Colombian James Rodriguez for the tournament lead.

Immediately following that score, Brazil continued to control the ball, but were undone by sloppy play at the front. Then at around the 19th minute, there was a shift in the play, as Germany now was consistently putting pressure of Brazil's defensive unit. It was at this point that I wrote in my notes that Dante was actually playing pretty well at center back, filling in for Tiago Silva. It was true at the time, but it was quickly undone, as horrible mistakes by him, Fernandinho, and David Luiz allowed Germany to score three goals in a six minute span.

The first of those goals was a historic one, as Miroslav Klose scored his 16th goal at the World Cup, becoming the most prolific scorer in the history of the ultimate tournament. It only exacerbated the anguish of the Brazilian faithful, as he dethroned one of the biggest Brazilian stars ever, Ronaldo.

Then, only a minute later, Toni Kroos kicked off a stretch in which he beat Brazil's back line twice in two minutes to put his team up 4-0.

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse for Brazil, Sami Khedira drove in a shot from near the top of the box and it looked like the Germans were simply fooling around at that point.

Despite giving up five goals in the first half, Brazilian goalkeeper Júlio César wasn't even playing poorly. He was not given a proper chance to make saves because his defenders were always leaving wide open spaces for German attackers to run into, then trailing behind once the ball was controlled. The most glaring measure of this was the fact that Brazil controlled possession for 64% of the first half, yet found themselves trailing by 5 goals because they simply were not ready to combat the German counterattack.

The story of the second half was Manuel Neuer messing with Brazil. With the game firmly in his side's hands, he was finally tested as the Brazilians were able to string together some quality offensive chances. But Neuer responded in brilliant fashion with two great saves, then two consecutive stops against Paulinho within the first eight minutes of the second half.

César played well when his teammates gave him a fair chance, but that didn't last long as another defensive lapse led to substitute Andre Schurrle scoring twice within ten minutes, with the second goal being a beautiful left-footed strike that was perfectly placed at the top of the net. At this point the Brazilian faithful were applauding every time their team conceded a goal, because they had given up on cheering for their own team. Also, the television graphic couldn't contain all of Germany's goals at once, so they were forced to scroll up to them all.

And then came the finish, which included an absolutely ridiculous pity goal scored by Oscar to try and salvage some semblance of respect for his team and his nation. But that didn't work. His team his defeated about as soundly as possible. They disappointed themselves and their entire country with a disgraceful performance.

Now's also a good time to point out that Ghana drew Germany in the group stage.

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