BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Forget Neymar for a second and consider just how badly Brazil missed Thiago Silva in defense.
The host nation’s backline was relentlessly picked apart Tuesday in the World Cup semifinals, allowing Germany to score goal after goal in a 7-1 loss that will stand as a national embarrassment in a country credited with creating “The Beautiful Game.”
Germany’s potent attack certainly played a role in the debacle, but so did the suspension of Silva, Brazil’s captain.
“Truthfully,” Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar said, “it’s very hard to explain the unexplainable.”
The Germans first broke through in the 11th minute, with Thomas Mueller scoring. That was followed by a goal from Miroslav Klose in the 23rd, then two from Toni Kroos in the 24th and 26th, and one from Sami Khedira in the 29th.
Four goals in seven minutes, making the score 5-0 after only a half hour of play.
“What happened is that Germany at a given moment imposed a fantastic rhythm and was able to score the goals that defined the match,” Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. “The German team was fantastic.”
The Germans were, quite clearly, the better team at the Mineirao Stadium, but Brazil’s defense was bad.
Seven goals worth of bad.
In the place of Silva, Dante made his first start of the tournament alongside David Luiz in the center of defense. Marcelo and Maicon played on the flanks.
But an attacking start opened up huge gaps at the back, and it wasn’t long before the first goal came from an unmarked Mueller following a corner kick.
The other goals soon poured in, one from a spill by Cesar, another after a cross from Philipp Lahm made its way through the area to a waiting Kroos.
“We realized that they were cracking up and took advantage of it,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said. “The host was unable to deal with the pressure.”
In the absence of Silva, Luiz took over as the captain and the heart of the defense. During the Brazilian national anthem before the match started, he held up a No. 10 Brazil shirt to honor Neymar, who was ruled out of the rest of the World Cup with a broken vertebra after getting kneed in the back in the quarterfinal win over Colombia.
It might have been more fitting to hold up the No. 3 shirt of Silva.
The Paris Saint-Germain defender was forced to miss the match against Germany because he accumulated too many yellow cards in the previous matches. His second, in last week’s quarterfinal win, was given after he needlessly impeded the Colombia goalkeeper midway through the second half.
He also scored in that match, putting Brazil in front in only the seventh minute.
That kind of overall performance was sorely missing Tuesday.
“I think we lost something there. Suddenly they noticed and scored the goals,” said Luiz, who had scored in each of the last two matches. “It’s difficult to explain now. It’s a dream that has ended, and not the way we wanted it to.”
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