A magnificent German attacking performance on Tuesday evening left the host nation reeling, as Germany summoned seven of the best to hammer home against a weakened Brazil side – including a milestone goal for Miroslav Klose, his 16th goal in his fourth World Cup competition, a new World Cup record. Germany, it’s fair to say, have taken their time to grow into the competition – this being their first truly outstanding performance over 90 minutes – but even with this evidence, the most optimistic Germany fan would not have predicted the mauling that took place in front of their eyes. The Germans will take up their place in the final, while Brazil will stick around for the third place play-off, but definitely can’t be looking forward to it all that much.
Story of the Game
The game started relatively openly, with both teams trying to catch the other on the break. Brazil repeatedly tried diagonal balls from defence into their wide men Hulk and Bernard, but this wasn’t stretching the German defence any real amount, Lahm and Höwedes very easily dealing with the questions asked by their Brazilian counterparts. Germany, however, had the first real menacing attacking of the game – Müller squaring a ball to Mesut Özil, who cut back towards his ex-club teammate Sami Khedira, who rifled a drive right into the back of Bayern’s Toni Kroos; a wake-up call for Brazil, perhaps?
Well, not really. It was certainly a glimpse of things to come – Germany attacking effectively and dangerously – but Brazil certainly didn’t wake up. Minutes later, they gave away a cheap corner and failed to clear, leaving Thomas Müller a ridiculously easily chance to put his country in front; and he duly obliged, side-footing a volley home with aplomb. Marcelo had a penalty shout turned down not long after – it was a very obvious dive, however – before things got a lot, lot worse for Brazil. An emphatic German foray down the left found Toni Kroos, who squared for Miroslav Klose. Klose got a poor shot away, which was saved by Julio Cesar, but he made no mistake from the rebound, hammering home for a 2-0 lead – and his personal goalscoring record. Germany were in command, and just about a quarter of the game had been played.
It was Kroos’ turn a couple of minutes later. Germany won the ball back from the Brazilians pretty much from the restart, and bolted forward, with the midfielder strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid over the next few weeks providing the finish to a free-flowing attacking combination. A moment later, it was four; Kroos playing a neat one-two with Khedira, before tucking in neatly past Cesar. It was 4-0 in the World Cup semi-final, and it wasn’t even at the half hour mark yet.
In fact, it was 5-0 before the half hour mark too – a stunning 10 minutes or so for Germany propelling them from a commanding scoreline to a guaranteed final place. A one-two between Khedira and Özil gave Khedira with an easy finish, like Kroos’ seconds earlier, and Brazil were reeling. What had started with so much expectation had done more than crumble in the first half. Supporters were in tears as an eerie silence came over Belo Horizonte, stopped only by that awful rendition of Seven Nation Army that the German supporters insist upon inflicting on everyone when they score.
Brazil managed to limp into the break with no further damage incurred, but they were booed by their home fans, who were still shell shocked by the 4-goal salvo they’d seen minutes earlier. The second half started slightly better – Brazil probing for a consolation through Oscar, who had a ball well squared by Ramires, but was thwarted by Neuer in his attempt on goal, before Paulinho fired a shot straight at the Bayern Munich goalkeeper. Even at 5-0 up, Neuer was showing why he’s been one of the goalkeepers of the tournament – hauling his side through the preliminary knockout rounds and maintaining an embarrassing scoreline at the host’s expense in the semi final.
Germany nearly pulled further ahead through Thomas Müller, who forced Julio Cesar into his first real good save of the night on the hour mark, as Andre Schürrle of Chelsea also entered the fold. Maicon had a fleeting chance denied by his inability to stay on his feet, before Germany’s attacks began to tear Brazil apart at the back again. Tired and exposed by their attempts at a consolation, the pressure told as Philipp Lahm threaded a neat ball from the right onto the foot of Andre Schürrle for a well-worked tap-in. Thomas Müller was also queuing up behind Schürrle, perhaps more in hope than expectation – nevertheless, Germany had hit Brazil for six, and it was about to get marginally worse, still.
Schürrle ran on to a Müller through ball in the area, and rifled a half-volley under the crossbar and past Julio Cesar from the tightest of angles. Humiliatingly, this wasn’t just the seventh goal of the night that Brazil had conceded – but their fans rose in a standing ovation of the German team and Schürrle, which is never good. As Germany pushed for an eighth – which would have equalled their record World Cup win, having beaten Saudi Arabia by that margin in 2002, the Brazilian fans started to “ole” every German pass ironically. Maybe, for once, the cliché that it was “like watching Brazil” held some weight.
There was time, finally, for a consolation – Özil missing a gilt-edge chance before Brazil charged up the other end and, through Oscar, restored some level of respect to the scoreline with a decent finish which infuriated Manuel Neuer. But, with around 2 minutes left, Germany were safe in the knowledge that they’d go on to the Maracana – meanwhile, Brazil probably won’t receive the support that Germany did in their home World Cup in 2006, who after their loss in the semi-final to Italy even sang that “Stuttgart (the host city of the Third Place Play-off that year) is more beautiful than Berlin anyway”. But, then again, they did suffer the heaviest semi-final defeat ever, so fair enough.
Player Ratings (of 10)
Manuel Neuer – 8: Just excellent – didn’t make a mistake all game long. Goal not really his fault.
Philipp Lahm – 8: Has been excellent since going back to his actual position. Had Hulk in his pocket.
Jerome Boateng – 7: Was alright.
Mats Hummels – 7: Posed problems in the opposite box but wasn’t really tested before going off at half time.
Benedikt Höwedes – 7: Slowly getting used to the left back position, but this was probably his easiest game of the tournament. Bernard didn’t even try to expose him.
Bastian Schweinsteiger – 8: Was imperious throughout, but did miss a good chance late on. Not that it was telling.
Sami Khedira – 9: Khedira’s best performance so far this tournament – went off with 15 minutes left, which should hopefully ease fitness worries ahead of Sunday.
Thomas Müller – 8: A better showing by Müller than in the past couple of games. Dangerous throughout and got the ball rolling.
Toni Kroos – 9: Two goals in a couple of minutes is a decent return!
Mesut Özil – 8: One of Germany’s best attacking players. Despite being much-maligned, created a lot of chances. Just unlucky to miss the most noticeable one.
Miroslav Klose – 7: A little bit wasteful, but he did help the team’s shape massively.
Per Mertesacker – 7: Carried on where Hummels left off.
Andre Schürrle – 8: A fine brace capped off an excellent cameo.
Julian Draxler – 6: Didn’t do anything.
Julio Cesar – 2: Conceded seven goals. Awful, really.
Maicon – 1: Was a part of a defence which conceded seven goals. Also threw away a great chance. Awful, really.
David Luiz – 1: Looked out of sorts. Threw away any semblance of organisation we’d seen in his partnership with Thiago Silva. Awful, really.
Dante – 0: Is there any point discussing this guy’s performance? No. Let’s not.
Marcelo – 1: See Maicon.
Luiz Gustavo – 2: Can you see the general theme so far?
Fernandinho – 1: It’s quite obvious. They were all awful.
Bernard – 2: Didn’t do anything, which is a shame.
Oscar – 4: Well, at least he got the goal.
Hulk – 0: See Dante.
Fred – 0: See Dante and Hulk.
Ramires – 7: Was actually very good.
Paulinho – 5: Wasn’t great.
Willian – 6: Meh.
Man of the Match
Toni Kroos. The Bayern midfielder might be on his way out of the club, but he made a performance which shows why the likes of Real Madrid are interested in his signature; two well taken goals, plus an all-round effective passing performance will have confirmed him as a starter for the final, too.