Opinion

AT RANDOM: The beat(ing) of Brazil

Let’s flashback to February 2010. The Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Gold medal hockey game. Canada versus the U.S.A. We all know what happened. Damn Americans scored in the final minute to force overtime, causing a nation’s collective blood pressure to rise rapidly. Fortunately, we – Canada – were rescued in overtime by Sidney Crosby, who scored to give Canada the gold medal over its arch rivals.

Euphoria ensued. Molson’s sales skyrocketed. British Columbians hugged Albertans. Ontarians high-fived Quebecois.

Imagine if Canada had lost the game.

Then we would know how anybody from Brazil feels.

Of course, we are talking about Tuesday’s epic soccer (or football) fail from the hosts of the 2014 World Cup tournament.

If you missed it – and, granted, not everybody loves soccer (or football) – Brazil suffered the worst defeat in its World Cup history.

Germany 7 Brazil 1.

And this coming from the South American nation that has won more World Cup titles (five) than any other country in the event’s 84-year history (tournament is played every four years, like the Olympics). In the semifinal, no less. One win away from playing for world supremacy on its home pitch.

The Germans scored as many goals in the first 30 minutes of the match – four – as Brazil had allowed in its first five tournament games.

It was 5-0 at the half, with Brazil scoring its lone goal in the final minute to avoid further embarrassment by being shut out.

Canada is to hockey as Brazil is to soccer (or football).

We like to think of ourselves as the best hockey nation on the planet. Brazil thinks it’s the best soccer (or football) nation on Earth (though the Germans, three-time World Cup champions, Italy, who have won the gold trophy four times and England – once – might argue differently).

Brazil was supposed to dominate this tournament while playing at home. No European team has ever won the World Cup on South American soil.

Sure, the hosts played Tuesday without their Sidney Crosby – the multi-talented Neymar, injured in the quarterfinal – and without their captain (suspended for the game because of two yellow card penalties picked up during the tournament). But Brazil could have had Pele, Ronaldo and several others of its all-time World Cup team on the pitch against Germany Tuesday and it wouldn’t have mattered.

Trust me, I’m no soccer (or football) afficionado. I cringe when I hear the sport referred to as the ‘beautiful game,’ then watch players get bumped and roll to the ground – and keep rolling – like they’ve been fired out of a cannon. I fail to see the beauty in that.

But what the Germans did to Brazil Tuesday, to me, was play an almost perfect game. They dominated the hosts in every aspect.

Reaction in Germany to the romp of Brazil was mixed. While most were celebrating, a great number of German fans wished the score hadn’t been so high.

The Wall Street Journal had a reporter speak to 1980s German goalkeeping legend Harald Schumacher, who said 4-0 would have been enough.

“You get a guilty conscience inflicting such humiliation on hosts,” he told the reporter.

Imagine if the Americans had done that to Canada in Vancouver in hockey? Either the men’s or women’s final.  There might have been some tears, but we would be, er, miffed, to understate, at the Americans for running up the score.

There were stunning images Tuesday of Brazilian fans bawling their eyes out. Soccer (or football) fans are nothing if not passionate about their country’s national squads, like Canadians are about the good ol’ hockey game.

Hopefully, Sunday’s World Cup final between Germany and Argentina is an epic game. The Brazilians get one more chance to save face as they play in the third place game against the Netherlands. They’re going to need a tremendous effort to make fans forget Black Tuesday. Because right now, that’s all people are going to remember about World Cup 2014.

 

 

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