BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Germany sure knows how to spoil a party.
Miroslav Klose, Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira scored four goals in a six-minute span midway through the first half Tuesday, stunning all of Brazil into silence as its hopes of winning a World Cup on home soil unraveled.
Thomas Mueller and Andre Schuerrle also scored in the 7-1 victory. The loss matched Brazil’s biggest defeat ever, a 6-0 rout by Uruguay at the South American Championship in 1920, and Oscar’s goal in the 90th minute was little consolation.
When the final whistle sounded, David Luiz buried his face in the grass and Thiago Silva tried to console a sobbing Oscar, to little effect. It was Brazil’s first loss in a competitive game on home soil since 1975.
The Brazil fans whistled and booed as Germany saluted its small band of supporters. And judging by the profane chants directed at President Dilma Rousseff, Fred and Oscar, there’s no guarantee the country will be any happier Sunday, when Germany plays the winner of Argentina-Netherlands in the final.
A final all of Brazil hoped would end with celebrations for a sixth World Cup title.
Brazil has been on edge for much of the last year, furious at its leaders for the corruption and overruns that pushed the costs for this World Cup over $11 billion. Violent protests disrupted last summer’s Confederations Cup, a warm-up for the World Cup, and the mere mention of Rousseff’s name is enough to draw jeers.
But pride in the Selecao trumps anger at politicians, and Brazilians put their rage on hold to cheer their beloved team. Now that Brazil has been eliminated, however, there’s no telling what the mood will be. Several fans were in tears after the flurry of Germany goals, and there were photos of a Brazil flag being burned.
Beating Germany was never going to be easy. Germany has reached the semifinals or better at the last four World Cups, and Brazil was woefully short-handed with Neymar out with a fractured vertebrae and Silva suspended.
But what Brazil was lacking in bodies, it made up for in heart. Thousands of fans lined the streets just hoping for a glimpse of the team bus on its way to the stadium, and Neymar was everywhere at the Estadio Mineirao – literally.
Fans wore masks with his face, and one held up a sign saying, “No worries. Neymar’s soul is here.” Brazil’s entire team – coach Luiz Felipe Scolari included — arrived at the stadium wearing “Forca Neymar” (Be Strong Neymar) hats, and if there were any nerves or anxiety, it didn’t show.
The players were singing and dancing as the bus arrived, and Scolari was keeping time by pounding on the window. As they belted out the Brazilian anthem, Luiz and Julio Cesar held Neymar’s jersey between them.
And when Brazil got off to a fast start, with Marcelo sending a shot wide of the goal in the third minute, it seemed that maybe, just maybe, spirit and soul might trump skill just for one day.
But soccer is often called a cruel sport, and there is no greater reminder than Tuesday’s score line. Germany was merciless, refusing to take its foot off the gas – to say nothing of Brazil’s throat – even when victory was clearly in hand.