Brazilian football had it’s warning. It had it’s initial footballing ‘wake-up-call’ as far back as 2008- but they refused to listen. They assumed it was a one-off freak result, as I fear they may view July 8th thrashing at the hands of a very modern footballing German side.
In 2008, Santos FC, with a young starlet by the name of Neymar Junior, were preparing to play Barcelona in the final of the World Club Championship- a tournament that South American sides have always taken more seriously than their European counterparts (with the exception of that infamous decision of Manchester United in 1999 ). Santos had been preparing for the game for months, eager to pit their wits against one of World footballs greatest footballing sides. Barcelona very much just turned up to play a pre-season game and romped to a 4-0 victory in a game that could have easily been more…
In his post match conference, Pep Guardiola said that his side played how his grandfather had always described the romantic football of the great Brazilian national sides that had dominated international football or years and won the hearts of many with their fearless and breathtaking displays.
That night, Santos had played much in the rut that Brazilian football has been stuck-in for the past 10 years- much more physical, much less possession focused and with a heavy reliance on just a few stars abilities and much less as a unit- winning games, as Tim Vickery often suggests, on moments, not on flow.
Six years on from that Barca master class of fearless flowing football, a young German side with 8 players from a Bayern Munich side managed by, you’ve guessed it, Pep Guardiola, brushed-aside all of the hopes and dreams of a Brazilian nation in fatefully famous 19 minutes. By half time Brazil’s world cup was over and by full time Brazil’s Selecão and it’s current football philosophy was being ripped-up left right and centre.
The shock that followed was huge. No one was quite sure what they had just witnessed. What could have over-boiled as deep anger, was muffled by the shear size of the defeat.
That night, the final comment on Brazilian TV was one that went very unnoticed, but one that I feel hit the nail on the head.
Poldolski, a player that did not take part in the thrashing, but who has since won-over many Brazilian supports, was the last member of the German side the board the team bus and gave the final interview of the night. When asked how Germany had achieved such an overwhelming result, he simply responded; “We just beat Brazil at their own game- we passed it into the net.”
Brazil were beaten on flow. They never had a chance for their moment. But let’s take nothing away from Germany, who have not simply reverted to the old romantic Brazilian style, but gone even further and reinvented it- fearless flow, effortless efficiency and outstanding organization is an unbeatable mix.