Brazil Wakes Up To Find Tuesday's Nightmare Was Not A Dream

Host country Brazil was eliminated from the World Cup in epic fashion: Germany defeated Brazil 7-1 during the semifinal match. Brazilians are wondering how their beloved team could be so pulverized.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

You know it's not such a big deal to have seven points scored against you in American football. Should you lose a baseball game 7 to 1, that's bad, but worse things have happened. To lose a World Cup soccer semifinal 7 to 1 as Brazil did yesterday against Germany is somewhere at the edge of comprehension. The Brazilian fans who had to bear it included Ludmilla Reis.

LUDMILLA REIS: I started screaming we're ashamed - because what we were saying, it was OK, lose we can accept it, lose with strength we can accept it but that way was so hard to accept.

INSKEEP: NPR's Tom Goldman has been covering the World Cup in Brazil he's on the line. Tom how did this happen?

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: (Laughing) It appears you had one team absolutely prepared, Steve, and one team thoroughly unprepared, and I'll bet you can guess which was which. German coach Joachim Low knew that Brazil would be filled with passion and emotion and would probably start the game with a head of steam. Brazil of course was missing two key players. Striker, Neymar - he was out with that broken bone in his back. Defensive stalwart Tiago Silva was suspended because he'd gotten too many cautionary yellow cards. Now Brazil was using their absence as a source of inspiration. Germany's plan, tactically, was to be ready to absorb Brazil's attack and quickly counterattack. Coach Low said this after the game, we knew that if we are quick on the counters and go straight into attack after winning balls they will be disorganized - and boy was Brazil. And you saw, as a result, one of the most unreal sequences in World Cup history - four German goals scored over a six minute period midway through the first half, and it was over.

INSKEEP: You mentioned that the Brazilians were missing two players, one of them such a big player he's a one name player. I assumed that had to be part of the disaster here for Brazil.

GOLDMAN: Neymar - him being out - such a creative genius - that wouldn't have stopped the onslaught if he were in, and having Silva and might have helped keep the Brazilian defense better organized. But something - the idea of those two being out so consumed Brazil that it kept the team from properly preparing for the game. And Steve, here's another school of thought. Germany simply exposed a team that wasn't that strong. Brazil had been hanging on in this tournament in close games versus Mexico, Chile, Colombia - they never truly impressed. They relied way too much on that one player, Neymar. And they weren't getting contributions from other players who had contributed in the past.

INSKEEP: So let me just ask, Tom Goldman - Germany, before destroying Brazil, narrowly beat the United States one-to-nothing in an earlier stage of the tournament. That makes we wonder if United States might've done pretty well against Brazil.

GOLDMAN: Yeah. You're not alone in wondering that. You know, first of all the way Brazil collapsed, there are a lot of teams that could claim they were better, at least yesterday. But no, you really cannot compare this. The German team that beat the U.S. was not the team that dominated yesterday on both offense and defense. Teams evolve over the course of a World Cup, and we've seen Germany do that. And right now, Germany is a head of steam, hoping to maintain that level in the final Sunday against either Argentina or the Netherlands.

INSKEEP: Tom, let me just ask you - what has it been like to move around the streets in a city in Brazil after this disastrous loss yesterday?

GOLDMAN: Where we were, in Rio, it was absolutely pouring. It was torrential. And so you had a lot of people, mostly unhappy people, who had already gone home. We found some people who were kind of hanging out, still enjoying themselves and saying this is terrible but, you know, we'll survive. I think most of the country went home and was crying in their caipirinhas.

INSKEEP: Tom, thanks very much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Tom Goldman.

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