There’s no way to sugar coat what happened between Brazil and Germany on Tuesday afternoon. It was ugly, horrific and more than anything, the defeat will carry long-term ramifications for Brazilian football, the current state and all sorts of goodies that will be reminiscent of what Germany had to go through in the early 2000’s. The financial hit that Brazil has taken to host the World Cup is bad enough (few are even mentioning the double whammy that will come with hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics as well), to see Brazil lose in the manner they did as the hosts is something that will haunt the country that even the 1950 loss to Uruguay won’t match.
What this loss will do is call into question the current playing style of Brazil, the management and how this team needs to have more “Joga Bonito” in them, something that fellow EDIZD writer Ahmad touched on here. I’m not sure quite honestly how much Joga Bonito needs to be installed for Brazil, but it’s clear through what happened in this World Cup combined with the remaining memories of what happened under Dunga in 2010 that Brazil are not a country that can have success in today’s current climate of International football through playing with simply hyperactive athleticism (On a related note, boy did I screw up by half heartedly defending Scloari’s selections a month and a half ago).
One narrative that’s come from Germany’s shellacking over Brazil is David Luiz and how he played horribly and was out of position during the game. Some of this comes from biases we have in terms of watching players play a certain position that doesn’t entail what the qualities of said players should have through what football has dictated us to believe. Luiz is not your conventional CB and fans who’ve watched him play in Chelsea and even during the Confederations Cup last summer for Brazil will attest to that. There’s obvious benefits and advantages to employing a CB who has pace and has the ability to start breaks from the back, something that Vincent Kompany does at the highest order. Luiz for all we know will transition to a defensive midfield role in the next couple of years and thrive in that position, rendering this whole “HE’S NOT A CB RAWRRRRRR” storyline moot. He has great pace for a CB which helps him at times where he is caught out of position.
I know by reading this plus the title of this post that a lot of you will come to the conclusion that I’m defending Luiz for what happened against Germany, which is kind of true. I don’t think Luiz should be made the scapegoat for Brazil’s performance defensively versus Germany. He and Dante for the most part were casualties for what went on between the full backs in Maicon and Marcelo and the two holding midfielders in Fernandinho and Luis Gustavo.
Even before the gluttony of goals that happened in the 20-30 min mark of the match, the seeds of Brazil’s demise were apparent with how the defensive shape was set out:
The obvious question one can ask is where is Marcelo in this pic. He’s at midfield, which makes the 4-5-1 that Brazil employ more resemble a 3-6-1, which Germany exploited to get an early opportunity:
It was one of several instances this World Cup as to how Marcelo’s decision to play as a LM most of the time instead of a LB hindered Brazil at the back (funny enough Dani Alves has the same issue and he was benched). Also the corner that led to Germany’s first goal came off of a Marcelo turnover which illustrated how imbalanced Brazil were when Germany counterattacked:
Brazil’s hyperactive style of play to this point wasn’t totally found out in terms of the holes that it exposed, which is a credit to how pragmatic Brazil played during this tournament but also served as a warning for what may happen when faced against a really good team. Chile had their moments and were a crossbar away from beating Brazil in extra time and Germany kicked it up to another gear.
The first goal for Germany off the corner kick was a result of Miroslav Klose setting a pick for Muller and with Luiz marking Muller pre-pick, no one switched to Muller which lead him to steer home the volley. Goal number two through five were the result of a comedy of errors that a pub league team wouldn’t have committed let alone Brazil.
Just over 21 minutes into the match and Brazil are charging up the field with 6-7 players. Hulk’s failed through pass starts off a German counterattack. Notice how far up Marcelo and Maicon are:
It’s not a cardinal sin to have your fullbacks launch in attack. Loads of teams in this World Cup use their fullbacks to provide width in certain formations. What makes this an issue is when there’s no cover in both the midfield and in the space behind on the left hand or right hand side, which happened time and time again for Brazil.
And despite all of that if Fernandinho gets to this ball, this game could’ve been different:
Gustavo just lets Muller go behind him while Marcelo isn’t able to make up for that lapse in judgement. Dante doesn’t shift to his left to cut any potential passes that can get to Muller and instead simply gives room for Kroos to make the pass to Muller. Luiz is stuck in between Ozil and Klose while Maicon might as well should’ve just picked his nose and looked at the sky. You can argue that Luiz should’ve come off Ozil and shift his body to intercept that pass, but that risk would’ve left Ozil open and had Gustavo not let Muller make that cut, that would’ve never happened.
Of course if Fernandinho gets that ball before all of this or simply doesn’t gamble on it…
Sadly that wasn’t the case and if the 7-1 loss wasn’t bad enough, Miroslav Klose breaking Ronaldo’s World Cup record on the second goal should be infinite sting.
Another instance where the left flank of Brazil was exposed, though this time it wasn’t for Marcelo being too high up the pitch. Notice how inward Marcelo is to mark a German player:
I mean the shape itself so far is half decent so long as Marcelo goes back into defending some sort of part in that space. Problem is that didn’t happen in part because no one with a yellow shirt is marking Muller:
With Oscar high up the pitch and Fernandinho/Gustavo not really marking anyone in the midfield, one head turn by Hulk allowed Lahm to get in behind him and set up the opportunity for Kroos to score Germany’ s third goal of the match. I do feel a bit bad for Marcelo in this case cause what can a guy do when he has to pay attention to Muller not being marked by anyone plus making sure Lahm doesn’t get in behind Hulk. Plus Dante could’ve stepped up to mark Muller and trust Luiz to keep Klose in check.
No screen caps or videos necessary for this. Fernandinho simply gives up the ball, Kroos steals it and plays a little 1-2 with Khedira while Julio Cesar is like a fish out of water.
This is the one goal from the five in the first half that David Luiz did play a rather huge part in setting up for Germany, but even then there’s the team wide failure latched in with it. Even before the miss read of a potential challenge, Hummels gets away from both Oscar and Fernandinho quite brilliantly:
and then he somehow gets this pass through both Gustavo and Luiz:
Should Luiz go for that ball? No and because he did, he left Dante and Maicon on an island to defend three German players on attack with Maicon having to change his running trajectory and Dante being overloaded on that instance not knowing who to mark. Perhaps he didn’t trust Gustavo to handle it (and judging by how Gustavo played, he’d have a point) but even then it was a bad idea to overload with help in that situation. It was another LOL moment for Brazil’s defense, not trusting one another to cover their assignment, hoping that athleticism can trump defensive intricacies and game planning.
Brazil are due for a massive overhaul after the failures of what happened in 2006, 2010 and especially for the pragmatic football displayed this time around as hosts. They were absolutely picked apart in defense through a number of costly errors that snowballed into a goal deficit that for the next number of decades will be talked about with the same fervor as their loss to Uruguay in the 1950 final. Germany are proof of how overhauling the entire national system can help bring back an old power into high prominence and not have to be picked apart for what they’re no relative to iterations of previous decades. Germany were brilliant in the little holes that they exploited through Scolari’s 4-5-1/4-2-3-1, with Marcelo perhaps being the ultimate standout in defensive calamities. Luiz and Dante for the most part were exposed so much by how Brazil lacked any balance tracking back, with Germany being so clinical in capitalizing on numerous defensive errors.
Will Joga Bonito rise again? Who knows. Does Brazil even need to fully return to being Joga Bonito to turn itself into a national side that isn’t so reliant on hyperactivity? Again, who knows. What we do know is this; shit’s about to hit the fan and for the love of god, DUCK!!!