Brazil, we were told four weeks ago, would erase the ghosts of 1950. They did exactly that, just not in the way expected. For Moacir Barbosa, read Fred; the role of scapegoat cast in the hapless forward’s direction. That is the story this morning, the emasculation of football’s gods, how jogo bonito was made to jog on.
Amid all the crying, the wailing and gnashing of teeth over Brazil’s humiliation, spare a thought for the Germans. How must they be feeling this morning after the events of the night before? Absolutely epic. I suppose the thought must be niggling at the back of Joachim Löw’s mind that his team has peaked too soon but to me this was the performance that Germany had promised since the start of the last World Cup. The style of football lends itself, the quick-fire rat-a-tat-tat passing exploiting the weaknesses of their opponents. Stereotypically ruthless when opportunities arise.
Their task is to translate it into winning this World Cup.
Four years ago I thought that we would see the English game lurch toward the German style but tika-taka had yet to be fully exposed. It has at club level in the Premier League, Arsenal were the arch exponents and defensively found wanting prior to last season. Wenger and the coaches morphed their tactics to the more direct style of the Die Nationalmannschaft, a journey that has yet to reach its final destination. With the players touted as arriving, that may be on the cards.
It would be tempting to write off anyone else in Sunday’s final. Kroos edged Man of the Match for me but Sami Khedira wasn’t far behind. The former displayed the form that makes him Real Madrid’s object of desire, a move which may free the latter for a move to Arsenal. Yes, I know, it’s a tabloid tale but if Khedira can recapture that performance on a regular basis, he would be a tremendous acquisition for Wenger. He will no doubt be joining Yann M’vila in the queue for the medical room soon.
Mesut Özil has reportedly been the subject of much criticism this season, including over the last week or so since the final group game, through the knockout phase. Some confidence in front of goal and he would have silenced his detractors, the quick passing style fitting him like a slipper last night.
As good as Germany were, there is no denying that the abject level of Brazil’s performance helped them. Reduced to long, aimless diagonal passes from David Luiz, they carried not threat or air of menace in attack. Never has one squad been so hopelessly exposed as a one-man team. Actually, a two-man team and neither were playing last night. For all the attacking drive Neymar inspires in them when fit, it was Thiago Silva whose absence was most cruelly felt. Luiz looked shell-shocked at the vacuity of Dante’s performance alongside him. Marcelo was the rampaging wing-back whose leaden touch and tactical naivety caused so many problems. Löw had identified the full back as a weakness to be exploited and Germany set about doing just that from the opening minute. There was no-one there to organise the back four, no leader; whether they were capable of listening is another matter.
From the opening match against Croatia, I felt Brazil had been weighed down by expectation. The nation wanted them to deliver, that is understandable but with this squad, unrealistic. Home advantage counts for nought beyond influencing weak officials. Having rode their luck against Mexico and Chile, the manner of their performance against Colombia where they fouled with impunity was, in hindsight, the warning sign that all was not well. I didn’t expect them to win last night, I thought beforehand Germany were far better. I didn’t expect them to collapse like a building in the hands of skilled demolition experts either. But they did and an ignominious exit, the like of which has never happened at a World Cup in my lifetime, beckoned. It was the one opportunity they didn’t squander.
Brazil will want to erase this from their consciousness; the World Cup from Hell. This morning’s Guardian iPad app seems to have done the job for them:
So to Arsenal and how that match has changed this morning’s post. It was all about epic journeys, how we might consider ourselves the modern-day Gilgamesh and Enkidu on their way to Cedar Mountain. I hadn’t worked out who would fill the role of Humbaba but suffice to say, this was nowhere near the literary giant from which it was borrowed. It revolved around Jeremy Wilson’s Daily Telegraph piece and it is one which you will either agree with or like myself, find a few issues with. It’s too romantic a vision, one that merges the long-term commercial strategy into the playing side. The latter has been far from strategic in that regard, there have been too many self-inflicted wounds for recent seasons to be seen to have coherence as their byword.
It came right last time around in the end, the Premier League disappeared with the kindness of the fixture list ruthlessly exposed. That the gap to the top was closed to just a couple of better results is the foundation upon which to build with the millstone of those trophy-less years removed. The by-product of the FA Cup win is that expectations naturally rise. The long-held belief is that losing a couple of finals and semi-finals worked its way into the mindset of the players, that the first trophy would ease the burden by proving to themselves they were winners. Catharsis? Maybe that is the emotional rollercoaster ride we will embark upon over the next nine months.
On the transfer front, there was quite a scuffle at Colney yesterday as Mathieu Debuchy apparently barged past the likes of M’vila and Kalou to have his medical. A done deal that started the day as £8.9m is now £11m plus Campbell and Jenkinson on loan. Arsène may not be happy but Kalou’s valuation is now just over £5m for some bizarre reason best known to Lille. I’m just grateful that Roma seem to want to sign a companion for Ashley Cole and are reportedly willing to pay that sum. Anything that keeps him away from an Arsenal shirt beyond wearing it around the house, is most welcome.
Alexis Sanchez meanwhile, must have been held up at El Prats or has Iberia lost his luggage? We should be told because everyone seems to be expecting him to sign today, even Arsène. Well, either today or some time next week; you know how long it can take in baggage reclaim. Loic Remy meanwhile is expecting the call to talks with the club supposedly chatting with ‘Appy ‘Arry over how much of the £8m transfer fee will actually make its way to QPR. His value started this summer at £12m but like Balotelli, the only loser for his World Cup performances seems to be the selling club. It’s makes you wonder if the Argentine Chancellor of the Exchequer is in charge of market valuations such is their volatility. Another day in transfer paradise beckons.
And I’m still waiting for the stadium PA announcer to substitute Deutschland Uber Alles with the Dead Kennedy’s version. Perhaps Sunday.