I have to admit to at least a bit of sadness that Arjen Robben won't be in the final. I have this weird love/hate relationship with Robben: he is just phenomenally skillful, and he runs like a maniac for the full 90 minutes (I said to a friend: "he's like Michael Bradley, but with the perfect first touch").
But then he channels his inner Leonardo DiCaprio, and I just throw up my arms.
So give me Leo.
Oh, YES, give me Leo!
It would be a much easier call if Angel DiMaria, who gets nowhere near enough credit, could be part of the outcome, but even without him I think the Argentines have a real chance.
Just let me hear no more silky-voiced British commentators telling me about that "well-oiled German machine."
Here's my prediction, and my hope: Argentina 1, Germany 0, in a well-played, well-officiated, thrilling replay of the 1990 matchup, but with a different outcome this time.
Meanwhile, I still don't understand what happened last Tuesday (and Nate Silver doesn't, either!)
I'm not alone:
- Why Brazil Lost: Rather than make a real plan, they abandoned themselves to romantic notions of passion and desire.
Barring the few thousand overjoyed Germans there was an atmosphere of stunned, disbelieving horror in that stadium that has possibly never before been experienced in sport. It was as though Germany had gathered 60,000 4-year-olds together and briskly announced that there is no such thing as Santa Claus.
- The Most Shocking Result in World Cup History
As I mentioned, however, the Elo system discounts lopsided victories. Since it was the lopsidedness of the scoreline that made Tuesday’s match such an outlier, that somewhat defeats our purpose of placing the result in historical context.
- Germany 7-1 Brazil: Germany record a historic thrashing, winning the game in 30 minutes
This should be regarded as one of the most historic defeats football as seen: the hosts, pre-tournament favourites and the most successful side in the history of the World Cup humbled 1-7 in their own country, in the semi-final. Everyone is wise after the event, and many will suggest Germany were always likely to win, but in reality, with the bookmakers had Germany and Brazil at exactly the same odds to triumph. This was considered 50:50, and expected to be a tight, tense game...
- Brazil v Germany: Biggest humiliation in history of Brazilian football as 7-1 thrashing in World Cup signals night the music died
Further down this week’s road we will turn our thoughts to the brilliance of this Germany side, and how they have shown the rest of the world the right path to youth development. But first there is much more angst to seep out of Brazil. Social equilibrium always appeared dependent on the team’s ability to go on winning games. Scolari’s promise to bestow a sixth world title on his people was meant to calm the nation’s nerves. It reads now like a rhetorical leap off a cliff.
- Brazil's Worst Nightmare Comes True as Germany Eviscerate World Cup Dreams
Over the next 90 minutes, in perhaps the most surprising, jaw-dropping result in World Cup history, Brazil were demolished 7-1 by a rampant Germany side, as a combination of woeful organisation, shoddy defending, individual mistakes and incisive attacking (the Europeans deserve some credit, after all) sent the tournament hosts out of the competition with their tails firmly between their legs.
This was scarcely believable stuff, even as it happened in front of the world’s eyes. To put it in some type of context, this was Brazil’s first competitive defeat on home soil since 1975—a 3-1 loss to Peru that also happened in Belo Horizonte’s Estadio Mineirao. It was the first time they had conceded four goals since a 4-2 loss to Hungary in the 1954 World Cup.
- World Cup 2014: Records broken in Germany's 7-1 win over Brazil
The first time Brazil had ever conceded seven goals in a World Cup match. It has only conceded more once in any fixture, an 8-4 loss to Yugoslavia in a friendly in 1934.
Various publications have attempted to frame this in historical terms by comparing events of similar magnitude.
I have one to offer.
It happened in 1940, which was a long time ago (75 years ago!). There are probably very few people alive who remember this game, and certainly it was 25 years before my time (all I knew about Sammy Baugh came from a dog-eared, flimsy paperback book that I used to read at night before I went to bed): 1940 NFL Championship Game
The game was played at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. on December 8, 1940. The Chicago Bears defeated the Washington Redskins, 73–0, the most one-sided victory in NFL history. The game was broadcast on radio by Mutual Broadcasting System, the first NFL title game broadcast nationwide.
the Chicago Bears played perfect football for a greater percentage of the official hour than any team before or since. In the championship game, as an underdog to the team which had just beaten them, the Bears made an eleven-touchdown pile and used it as a pedestal to raise the NFL to view in all corners of the country.
It's not a great comparison, because it was just the United States.
The 2014 Brazil-Germany semi-final, my friends, was the most shocking sporting event that has been played in
the entire world
I've really enjoyed this World Cup, and I hope you did, too.
Next week, I promise, I'll get back to All Those Other Things That Matter To Me.