Such a Sad End, Samba Boys

Rest of the house was fast asleep.  Persistent vibration of my mobile woke up in the ungodly hour of 12.30 am,  in the morning. I tiptoed bleary eyed into the living room swithced on the TV and put it on mute.  Everybody had work to do. Not me, I was determined to watch Brazil Germany semifinal match. I listened for an hour to Sony Six team on team and strategy analysis. At last game started. Within 15 minutes, Germany scored two goals. Disappointed I switched of my TV and went back to sleep. In the morning, I opened morning news hoping against hope of a Brazil recovery. May be a 6 – 2 victory. Score line jolted me to reality. It was 7 – 1 in favour of Germany. My morning, my day and my rest of the FIFA world cup went for a toss.

I grew up in Bengal of seventies. Bengalis considered themselves to be torch bearer of Indian soccer. Growing up a subliminal message was ingrained about beauty of Brazilian football and legendary Pele. I do not know what was the basis. We had not seen any world cup match, let alone any game of Brazil or Pele. What we read in vernacular sports magazine how Pele was repeatedly tackled hard by Europeans and his free flowing game was interrupted. Those were the days hardly 20 years after independence. May be our antipathy to colonial Europeans, may be identification with  developing world that was challenging domination of Europeans, may be appreciation of flowing Brazilians soccer in comparison to machine like precision of Europeans, may be all of these have endeared us to south American style of soccer played by Brazil. Ever since we had a TV set in our house in 1980s, if Brazil was playing I would give an arm and leg not to miss the game.

This world cup was no different. I watched all the games, some time staying up at night. To be honest despite all the hoopla, Brazil did not look like the team that was capable to winning the trophy. Apart from Neymar, and to some extent Socrates, their front line looked ineffective. Less is said about the defence is better. Brazil’s defence was exposed by Croatia. Brazil could not score against Mexico. The problems were complicated due to Neymar’s injury and Silva’s suspension.

Football is a game played by eleven players. A good team must have strategy to overcome unforeseen eventualities. I do not understand, in the absence of star striker and key defence man, why did the coach not opt for more defensive formation? In 1994 final, Italy was one man short for most of the game. Yet they dragged the match and Brazil to penalty shootout without conceding a goal in regular and extra time. As early as last world cup, free flowing German soccer machine was shut down by Spanish team. Spain went on to win the cup beating the Dutch.

I thought Neymar’s absence would revitalise and charge up Brazil. They would play like wounded lion and win the game for Neymar. What I saw was a clueless defence. German forwards were not guarded, everyone had a free run at the goal. Even when a school team concedes more than five goals, it is a shame. It is no longer a defeat, it is a rout. Here we are talking about Brazil, a team that thinks nothing short of winning the game and cup every time it enters the field!

All in all, I was devastated to say the least. I feel for millions of Brazilians. Like Indians, Brazilians put a lot of faith in their team to bring them glory. Because rest the of the system in the country, government, administration, etc fails us. Yet, this time Brazilian football stars have failed their people.

Tags: World Cup, Soccer, Football, Brazil, Bengal, Germany, Spain, Neymaar, Silva

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