Coming into the semi-final against Brazil at the Estadio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte, Germany would be the bookies’ favourites. But only just. When the match kicked off the first ten minutes saw Brazil edge the opening tussles, with Jogi Löw’s team looking worryingly fragile. The opening goal just moments later from Thomas Müller settled the nerves however, and the rest was history. Not just history for the sake of the historical record, but real footballing history.
In the space of six frantic minutes midway through the first half, the Nationalmannschaft would find the back of the Brazilian net four times. This, and Toni Kroos’ two strikes within a mere sixty-nine seconds, would be two of many records set in a game that would make every football watcher sit up and take notice of a German side that since its opening game against Portugal had seemed to fall into a somewhat mechanical lull. This brutal punishment was not being meted out to some group stage minnow, but a team that had not been beaten at home in a competitive match for thirty-nine years. Not Saudi Arabia, El Salvador or San Marino, but Brazil. Brazil, the five times world champion team and tournament hosts.
One would quickly run out of superlatives to describe the German team as they scored two more second half goals in strolling to a scarcely believable 7-1 victory, a result so staggering one would need to rub one’s eyes just to make sure that the second number was in fact what it looked like. A win by any score over a team they had never beaten in a competitive international would have been enough for Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw and his team, but this was an achievement beyond comprehension – one that would beggar belief and forever remain in the memory for those who would witness it.
Without resorting to hyperbole, one could argue that the result would be on a par with Hungary’s 6-3 demolition of England at Wembley in November 1953, a seismic event that would change the face of the game. The “Magical Magyars” would actually match Germany’s 7-1 scoreline in a return match in Budapest the following year, but it would always be the victory at Wembley – long seen as a fortress – that would go down in the memory.
Like Wembley in 1953, the Massacre at the Mineirão on July 8th 2014 would redefine the footballing landscape and – for Brazil – create a whole new chapter in their own relationship with the beautiful game. Before the tournament Brazilian fans had hoped to draw a line under their painful defeat at the Maracanã in 1950 at the hands of neighbours and rivals Uruguay – the so-called Maracanaço or Maracanazo – with a victory in the final; instead, a whole new story would be written.
If 1950 had produced the Maracanazo – literally, “The Tradgedy of the Maracanã” – the almost surreal 7-1 battering at the hands of a rampant German team – suitably kitted out in Trikots that would them look like ten Dennis the Menaces with a radioactive Green Goblin in goal – would mark the beginning of the Mineirazo, the Tragedy of the Mineirão. Rather than exorcise the demons of the past, A Seleção had simply opened the door to a whole new strain of ghouls.
For Germany it would be a moment of history, but one that would have to be tempered by the fact that it was “only” a semi-final. The game will no doubt go down in the record books as one the Mannschaft’s greatest-ever victories in their long and proud history, but the glory can only be completed with victory in the final against Argentina. Should this be achieved, this current German side could truly claim to be the best of all time, surpassing the achievements of 1954, 1974 and 1990.
Facts and Stats
Before the game, the Nationalelf’s competitive record against A Seleção would read at one draw and four defeats, with the draw coming in the US Cup mini-tournament in 1993 – essentially, a series of glamorous friendlies. In the only meeting between the two countries in the world’s premier competition the Brazilians would hold a 1-0 record, the result of their two-goal win in the 2002 final in Yokohama.
With just four wins in twenty-one matches – all in friendlies – and Brazil’s impressive home record that stretched back thirty-nine years and sixty-two matches, the statistics would not favour the European side. However, that last defeat for Brazil would come at the Estádio Mineirão – a 3-1 reverse at the hands of Peru in the semi-final of the Copa America.
Perhaps the only statistic in Germany’s favour would be the result of the last meeting between the two teams, an August 2011 friendly in Stuttgart that would see Joachim Löw’s team triumph 3-2 against a near full-strength Brazilian outfit.
On the personal front, midfielder Toni Kroos would win his fiftieth international cap, while second-half substitute Per Mertesacker would climb up the all-time to 103 caps, level with Der Kaiser Franz Beckenbauer.
However, the most significant personal milestone would be met by the evergreen Miroslav Klose, whose goal in the twenty-third minute would take him clear at the top of the tournament’s all-time goalscorers’ list. Having drawn level with previous record holder Ronaldo (the Brazilian one) with his equaliser against Ghana, the prolific thirty-six year old would finally claim the record for himself with his sixteenth strike in his fourth tournament.
Following the well-drilled win against France in the quarter-final, the lineup would be something of a no-brainer for the German coach. We would see the same line up, and the same 4-2-3-1 formation with the partnership of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira shoring up the defensive midfield, skipper Philipp Lahm at right-back, and striker Klose up top. The situation would be somewhat different for their opponents, who would be missing star man Neymar through injury and skipper Thiago Silva through suspension.
The opening ten minutes of the game would see Jogi’s Jungs get off to a slightly shaky start, and just for a moment you’d think that those age-old semi-final jitters last seen in Warsaw in 2012 had made an unwelcome return. A few poor touches and skips would define a very suspect opening five minutes, but the first genuine foray into the Brazilian half help the team settle down a bit better.
With just under eleven minutes on the clock they’d win their first corner, and the combination of yet another training ground move, the movement of Thomas Müller in the box and some dreadful marking from the men in yellow would see things set on their way. Müller’s fifth goal of the tournament would be simplicity itself, and while the Brazilian defence would be largely to blame the move would be testament to the concerted efforts made on the training ground to practice on set pieces. Having struggled for a long time with this facet of their game, it would be the Nationalmannschaft’s fourth set-piece goal of the tournament.
Just over ten minutes later would come the second, with Kroos taking advantage of more lazy Brazilian defending to set up Klose. The veteran striker would take his chance at the second time of asking, but would show the same killer instinct that had brought him to the summit of the game on its biggest stage.
After the European Championships in 2012 Klose had vowed to finish his international career at the World Cup, and following a series of injuries and age not being on his side nobody would have thought it possible. Yet here he was, scoring his sixteenth goal in his fourth World Cup – and claiming the accolade of the tournament’s greatest-ever goalscorer for himself. Unselfish, a team man through and through and one of the game’s nice guys, I can’t think of anybody who would have begrudged the Oppeln-born poacher his moment of glory. To score against Brazil – with previous record-holder Ronaldo in the audience – would be the icing on a very tasty cake.
Of course, nobody was to know what would come next – and if you had been one of those people who had to pay a visit to the bathroom, make a cup of coffee or tea or grab a beer from the fridge you would have missed one of the most amazing six minutes of football in the history of the World Cup.
Within a minute of Klose’s goal, Kroos would bang in the third after the Brazilian defence had again been caught napping. Then, sixty-nine seconds later, the Real Madrid-bound midfield dynamo would team up with the bounding Khedira to score his second and Germany’s fourth. By now you would be wondering if you had been transported to another planet, but before you’d even have time to think Khedira would be rifling in the fifth after collecting Mesut Özil’s neat tap-back.
The beleaguered Brazilian defence would be given some respite for the remainder of the first half, and the first twenty minutes of the second half would see the home side finally put a few moves together – only to be thwarted by man-mountain Manuel Neuer. Probably feeling a little left out and with nothing to do – there would be no call for any sweeper-keeper antics – Neuer would produce a number of world class saves as the Brazilians threatened to sully his clean sheet.
Not to worry. On sixty-nine minutes normal service would resume, with substitute André Schürrle finishing off what looked like another training ground move after some lovely work from Özil, Kroos, Khedira and Lahm, and ten minutes later would come the icing on the cake – a typically “Brazilian” move that would see Schürrle make it two goals from two shots as he collected a looping pass from Müller before lacing the ball into the net via the underside of the crossbar. Özil would spurn a chance for an eighth goal with minutes remaining, and right at the end Brazil would finally get on the scoreboard – and make Neuer look more like Hulk than the useless Brazilian number seven.
Conclusion and Ratings
When a team plays as well as this, there’s really not much more that needs to be said. Apart from the patchy start – easily and happily forgotten in the context of the match – and the defensive lapse that would lead to Brazil’s late and rather meaningless consolation, it would be a complete performance that would see the media come out with the usual chichés about the Germans being “ruthless”, “efficient” and “clinical”. However, unlike twenty or so years ago there would be a clear sense of admiration. The performance wouldn’t be “efficient” as in the Derwall days, but “efficient” with style. Like a Mercedes SLS rather than a Volkswagen Passat.
For their part the Brazilians would be a complete and utter shambles, with skipper David Luiz and Marcelo winning the brainless defending awards and poor striker Fred being subjected to humiliating catcalls from the crowd. Fred’s performance would largely illustrate how little work the German defence would have to do: he would not have one shot on goal or make a successful challenge, and most of his touches would come in the centre circle – at each of the seven restarts.
Having scared us a little with the 4-3-3 experiment and the deployment of Philipp Lahm as a defensive midfielder, the Nationaltrainer appears to have settle on the tried and trusted formation – with the frustration after the Algeria game having quickly disappeared down the memory hole. All that remains is for the team keep their feet firmly on the ground and see things through against Argentina on Sunday – where if things go to plan Lahm will be following in the footsteps of lifting that famous gold trophy.
A superlative display by the German ‘keeper, who after a quiet first half would show a firm pair of hands to keep out a number of Brazilian efforts in the second. Could do nothing about the goal at the end, but produced one lovely comedy moment when the diminutive Bernard attempted to shoulder-charge him only to end up in a sorry heap on the ground.
If further proof was needed that the skipper should be at right-back, this was it. After a quiet showing in the quarter-final we should see some vintage Lahm as he hassled and harried the hapless Brazilian defence all evening with his forays down the right flank, playing his part in the demolition of A Seleção.
Was hardly tested by the ineffective Brazilian forwards, but produced yet another strong and solid display in his usual central defensive role. Blotted his copybook slightly in not tracking Oscar right at the end for Brazil’s late consolation.
Like Boateng the Borussia Dortmund man little of note to do, but would play his part in the onslaught with a buccaneering run through the middle of the field which would result in the fifth goal. Was nursing a slight knee injury, and would be replaced by Per Mertesacker at half time as a precautionary measure.
With the game being won in the midfield Höwedes would have a quiet game like the rest of the defence, but would look far more confident.
Bossed the show in front of the back four, and was clean and efficient with his distribution and keeping things ticking over. Was less potent going forward than usual, but with those in front of him doing all the work this wouldn’t be a problem.
A titanic performance from the Real Madrid man, who would provide the perfect example of the role of the roving box-to-box midfieder. Was continually involved in the action, making one goal for Kroos and scoring another himself. Calm and collected as ever. Was replaced fourteen minutes from time by Julian Draxler.
Like Khedira, the deceptively languid-looking Kroos would deliver a stellar performance. Controlled the midfield engine with nonchalant authority, kept things flowing with his intelligent and accurate distribution and capped things off with two excellently-taken goals.
An encouraging performance from Özil, who would perform much of the magic behind the scenes and in the buildup. Was involved in a number of the moves that would lead to Germany’s goals and would provide a neat assist for the fifth, but really should have capped off his fine evening by scoring an eighth goal right at the death.
Got things moving with his calm finish after eleven minutes, and would be his usual roving, menacing self as the Brazilian defence were pulled all over the place. Would help set up the second goal for Klose, and would come close to scoring a second when his long-range effort was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Brazilian ‘keeper Júlio César.
Was his usual menacing self in the Brazilian box, capping off his evening with his record-breaking sixteenth World Cup goal. It would be his only chance, but would be as sharp as ever in taking his chance. Made way for André Schürrle thirteen minutes into the second half.
Replaced Hummels at the start of the second half, and the difference was immediately noticeable with Brazil looking far more dangerous. Would settle down as the second half progressed however, and would provide some neat passes out of defence.
Came on for Klose in the second half, and his poor finishing against France would be long forgotten with his first two shots finding the back of the net for goals six and seven. The first of the Chelsea man’s strikes would be a well-executed simple tap-in, while the second would come straight out of the book of spectacular finishes.
Replaced Khedira with just under a quarter of an hour, and would slot in smoothly as the team continued to go about its business. Delivered the perfect through ball for Özil right at the death.
Neuer (1), Lahm (1), Boateng (1), Hummels (1), Höwedes (1), Schweinsteiger (1), Khedira (1), Müller (1), Özil (1), Kroos (1), Klose (1). Substitutes (until 75 mins): Mertesacker (1), Schürrle (1).
Neuer (1), Lahm (1), Boateng (2), Hummels (2), Höwedes (2), Schweinsteiger (2), Khedira (1), Müller (1), Özil (2), Kroos (1), Klose (2). Substitutes (until 75 mins): Mertesacker (3), Schürrle (1).
Neuer (1), Lahm (1), Boateng (2), Hummels (1), Höwedes (2), Schweinsteiger (1.5), Khedira (1), Müller (1), Özil (2), Kroos (1), Klose (2). Substitutes (until 75 mins): Mertesacker (2.5), Schürrle (1).