There were many factors that contributed to Germany’s drubbing of Brazil on 8th July 2014, a date that will live long in the memory of any Brazilian, German and many football fans Worldwide. There is never one sole reason for any defeat or victory in football and this was the case in this particular match that shocked football. Many people will see Neymar’s absence due to a back injury as key. This is true to an extent as he is such an important player for Brazil scoring four of the ten goals Brazil had scored before a high knee in the back by Colombian Juan Zuniga ruled him out of the tournament. Neymar Jr. is a key player for Brazil however I don’t think he would have done much about the seven goals that Brazil conceded even if he was on the pitch. I would argue that the absence of Thiago Silva was much more significant. As well as the fantastic defender that he is, probably the World’s best, he is their captain, the embodiment of Scolari on the field of play, the only man in that back line with any defensive capacity or discipline. Silva is the one that tells Luiz to pull tighter in or tells the full-backs how far to push up. Without him it was clear to see that Brazil were a defensive headless chickens ready to be devoured by the quick, strong, ruthless German foxes. As this match was Alan Hansen’s penultimate in his career as a football pundit on the BBC I will do a Hansen-like breakdown of each of the seven German goals to emphasise just how disorganised Brazil were at the back and how individual mistakes compounded to create a collective mess.
Goal One of Seven
A corner. Corners are a great leveler in football. No matter whether it’s at a Sunday League match at a local park or in a World Cup Semi-Final in front of nearly sixty-thousand people at the Estadio Mineirao and umpteen million watching Worldwide. You could maybe excuse Brazil if it was a header from a 6’6″Per Mertesacker (who wasn’t on the field at the time) however at no level is it acceptable for a man to be in about 5 yards of space in the middle of the box with the ball falling at his feet.
Above is the perfect example of the negatives of man-to-man marking at set pieces. Luiz is clearly supposed to be marking Muller and firstly, isn’t tight enough to him. The whole of the German contingent inside the area run to the near post while Muller makes a diagonal run far-post which causes Luiz to be confused and blocked off. The ball is perfectly floated onto Muller’s feet where he puts it past Cesar to put Germany one up.
Goal Two of Seven
If you thought the last goal was amateur to concede, you’ll be appalled by this one. Firstly, as shown below, the ball is played back to Muller and the Brazil line pushes up. Apart from Marcelo, circled in red.
Below, out of picture, Klose pushes Dante and Luiz back onto the line of Marcelo. This is the point where Silva would be shouting at his defenders to push up but this deep defence, means Fernandinho in midfield is forced to sit deep which leaves a totally unmarked Kroos (red circle). Fernandinho tries to intercept Muller’s pass (black line) to Kroos but fails which leaves Kroos a massive amount of space to run into.
More errors to come as the Brazil line finally steps up, apart from guess who? Marcelo (circled red). This is a classic example of the ‘ballwatching’ which most defenders learn to stamp out of their game by the age of eleven or twelve. Next, in blue we can see Gustavo (blue circle) making a dog’s dinner(I apologise if any of my British Clichés are lost in translation) of tracking Muller, who Kroos slides a ball to in between Brazil’s centre-backs. This should simply never happen. This is made possible by Dante finding himself in no-man’s land as he starts to close down Kroos, but decides against this so all he really does is basically vacate his man, Ozil. (Can I also apologise for not using Umlauts and accents where I should as I don’t have a keyboard to facilitate this). This causes Luiz to vacate Klose to mark Ozil which means Luiz doesn’t know where Klose is. It is now effectively Maicon’s job to mark Klose which he doesn’t do which means he is free for Muller to pass to and score to become the World Cup’s all-time leading goalscorer.
Goal Three of Seven
The danger of conceding two early goals in such an important game is that it’s probably just the start. There first twenty-five minutes of Liverpool-Arsenal at Anfield in the 2013/14 season comes to mind. The more you go down, the higher your full-backs push up, the more midfielders you commit higher up the field, and the lower the tendency for the forwards to track back. The correct thing to do in these circumstances is probably to slow down the game, stifle the opposition, and try to launch a comeback in the second half after a passionate half-time team talk before it is too late. Brazil didn’t do this. This caused them to concede a staggering four goals from the twenty-third to the twenty-ninth minute.
Below, we see Hulk (red circle) completely avoiding his defensive responsibilities by failing to track Lahm and instead just holding his position and waving a half-hearted finger at Marcelo to tell him to mark Lahm. We also see Muller in the vast space between Brazil’s midfield and defence.
Below, Fernandinho (red) finally realises that it might be a good idea to pick up Muller and makes a measly effort of doing so. This causes Kroos to be unmarked at the back post where he fires home after Muller fails to make contact with Lahm’s cross. In the image, notice how ever Brazilian player is looking at the ball and has no awareness whatsoever for Toni Kroos( blue run).
Goal Four of Seven
At this point the game was pretty much lost so it’s pointless analysing anything. But I will anyway as there is a bucket load of mistakes to get through.
Below, Dante plays a slow, lazy ball to Fernandinho who has his back to goal. This makes it easy to apply pressure and win the ball, which is what Toni Kroos, having put the ball in the net about forty-five seconds previously did. Notice how, with the ball and they did this throughout the whole match, Brazil opted a 3-4-3 shape with the full backs pushing on to be wide midfielders and Gustavo dropping back. Normally, the holding midfielder drops back between the centre-backs however here, Gustavo is to the left of the three which is strange. When building out from the back in a 3-4-3, the CCB, Dante has to be deep like a sweeper to make a diamond to increase passing options, here isn’t deep enough here. Also, they need to use a goalkeeper who can pass it comfortably, I wouldn’t put Cesar into this category. It is also vital that you use aggressive pressing when using a 3-4-3 because of the three men on the front line, so one short pass can take these three men out of the game. It is fair to say that this particular building from the back system didn’t work. After Fernandinho loses the ball, Dante’s efforts are comical as he doesn’t know where to run or who to close down. *Cue images of small Brazilian children in tears*
Goal Five of Seven
When Mats Hummels picks the ball up where he does in the image below, what do you think he does? Makes a short pass wide? A long, hopeful ball up top? Get’s put under pressure and plays it back to Neuer? No. He is somehow allowed to dribble with the ball thirty or thirty five yards without even being tackled.The second image shows a heavy touch that causes two Brazilians to attempt to win the ball (one of which is Luiz who leaves his position to leave the space for Khedira, Klose and Ozil to overload Dante and Maicon 3v2) but he manages to scramble it to Khedira. This means Mats Hummels effectively beat five players and made an important pass to Khedira who played a one-two with Ozil to make it five. In the second image below just look at Marcelo (circled red), again.
Goal Six of Seven
The biggest mystery of this match is probably how on earth Brazil managed to go forty minutes without conceding a goal in the period between the fifth and sixth goals. Brazil actually had some positive spells at the start of the second half when the game was already lost and somehow had more shots, and shots on target than Germany. Seven goals from fourteen shots and twelve on target from Germany shows their ruthlessness and quality in finishing compared to Brazil who scored only one goals from eighteen shots, with thirteen on target. Despite this short period of dominance, the Germans soon put them well in their place with Andre Schurrle adding the sixth in the sixty-ninth minute. Here, Brazil lose a challenge on their left-hand side, which causes a two vs one, Khedira and Lahm vs Oscar. Khedira slides it to Lahm, who finds a totally unmarked Schurrle who shows the sort of clever movement that you would never see from Fred as he pulls back to give him space to receive the pass and shoot. Just look at the space in the middle of the penalty area.
Goal Seven of Seven
This is the only German goal where you could actually put it down to great individual skill over a defensive error. It was almost fitting that such a fantastic finish topped off probably the most remarkable football match in history. Was there still amateur defending in the lead up to the goal? Of course there was. Was it Luiz losing focus in the later stages of a match? You guessed it. Below we see Luiz slowly jogging towards Schurrle who is obviously in a dangerous position and Luiz (red) only starts sprinting when the ball reaches Schurrle’s feet. At this point, it was too late.
Seven-one. This result was an accumulation of a team who have underperformed since their win over Portugal in their first match finally reaching the heights, and more of that first performance. A team at the very top of it’s game who have worked with this generation for years with Ozil winning man of the match in the final and Khedira captaining the German U21 side that won the 2009 European Championship. And a team that showed how far behind Brazil (and most certainly Scolari) is behind Europe in terms of tactical knowledge, defensive discipline and how this generation wouldn’t really be worthy of going down in the record books with the Brazilian sides of ’58, ’62, ’70, ’94 ’02 and go one further than the great 1982 team. As well as a victory for Germany it was a victory for football as we can truly say, if Germany win the tournament, that the winners of the 2014 World Cup deserved it.
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