How will Brazil beat Germany without Neymar, their talisman, their only truly world-class player? That was the question running in everyone's mind when news broke out the superstar would miss the rest of the 2014 FIFA World Cup due to a broken back. Amidst all that chaos and despair, a loss, which would prove to be a greater one than that of Neymar, fell a bit under the radar.
What Thiago Silva would give now not to have stupidly stolen the ball from Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina, a decision which led to him picking up a needless yellow card and thus forcing him out of the semifinal against Germany in Belo Horizonte.
If the Brazil skipper had even an inkling of what was to transpire at the Estadio Mineirao on Tuesday evening, he would have done everything humanly possible, and possibly called up a few aliens as well, to invent a time machine in a few days, turn back time, and go to that moment when he stole the ball off Ospina as the goalkeeper attempted a goalkick, and instead decided to just trot back into his defensive line, like he should have done.
Because, without Thiago to yell at his defenders and coax them to actually defend the ball rather than playing like they were on the Amateur level of FIFA 14 on the PS3, Brazil would not have been thumped, battered, bloodied and bruised 7-1 by Germany in the most extraordinary World Cup match you are ever likely to see.
The loss was humiliating in so many levels it beggars belief – the first defeat for Brazil in a competitive match in home soil since 1965, and more jarringly the greatest ever loss in their history, beating the 6-0 thumping handed out by Uruguay way, way, way back in 1920. So, for almost a century, no team has come close to handing Brazil such a thrashing, and when it did come it had to be in front of their fans and in the semifinal of the World Cup.
The dream of banishing those 1950 ghosts are gone; come to think of it, those ghosts might actually be laid to rest now, with this horror show set to haunt ever single Brazilian fan for some time to come – maybe till the next time they get to host the World Cup (hopefully, they won't have to wait another 64 years).
If this was any World Cup other than one being held in Brazil, Luiz Felipe Scolari's men would have come into the tournament in the second, or even, third rung of favourites; such is the lack of quality in this side. Apart from Neymar, there is no wizard that can weave that magic wand. And without Thiago Silva, the only true defender in that lineup, Brazil's defence is like melting butter, waiting for a hot knife to go through them and cut them wide open.
And how Germany tore Brazil apart -- with utter ruthlessness, efficiency and quality, quality that this Brazil side would have given anything to have in their own side. Every single player in that Germany team played the best possible game – of course, Brazil made it easy for them with their comical and shambolic defending.
The midfielders – Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos – ran the show, while Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, Miroslav Klose and Andre Schurrle were like kids, left all alone by their parents, in a candy store, gleefully accepting gifts which Brazil just kept giving away, almost as if they had taken up the job of a summer Santa Claus.
Nobody could have envisaged Brazil capitulating like they did on Tuesday – heck, even the German fans, after the fifth or sixth goal went in, would have probably been saying alright that's enough, we can't humiliate the biggest footballing country in the world anymore. And what a tremendous pity it is to see Brazil, the nation that symbolises football, that lives, breathes and eats football, kind of like India and cricket, crash and burn in such a manner.
It will take some time for Scolari, if he stays on, or the next Brazil coach to pick up the pieces, to find some talented footballers that can hold a candle to the likes of Pele, Zico, Ronaldo and more. Before that, there is a small matter of the dreaded third-place playoff, to be played in Brasilia on Saturday – nobody, not even Scolari will want to be a part of that, even if they have to; and a victory in that as-inconsequential-as-they-come match will go absolutely nowhere in lifting that pall of gloom which has pervaded throughout the entire country – hitting those 200 million people, who saw their dreams and hopes dashed in the space of 30 first half minutes, harder than a meteor crashing into earth at full tilt.