Two analyses of Brazil’s defeat

July 9, 2014 • 10:17 am

I’m sure there are tons of these throughout the world, but here are two I’ve found in American media, both worth reading:

Jeremy Stahl (senior editor at Slate): “Every German goal in its 7-1 victory over Brazil made history. Here’s how.

Frank Foer at the New Republic: “Let the recriminations begin in Brazil, and let them begin with Scolari.” An excerpt:

The overheated will to win, therefore, is a plausible explanation. But the Brazilian game is far more broken than that.

For starters, it is riddled with corruptiona corruption that has historically haunted the national federation and extended through coaches, agents, and even journalists. You could see hints of that corruption in the ridiculous manner in which this World Cup was conceived, where cronies of club owners built palatial stadiums with an eye towards kickbacks and future profits. But how does this corruption affect the quality of the Brazilian team? By siphoning money away from important investmentsin youth development, in training facilities, in stable organizations capable of nurturing talent. Instead, many of the most promising young Brazilian players are sold prematurely by shady middlemen to European squads and doomed to early and avoidable failure in their careers.

European club soccer has another debilitating effect on the Brazilian system. When those young Brazilian players are sold to the big sides in Europe, they adapt themselves to becoming disciplined specialists in big organizationsoutstanding wingbacks, skilled defensive midfielders. Of course, this is also true of Germans, Spaniards, and Italians. But the immersion of Brazilian prospects in the European game has also, to some unquantifiable extent, transformed the DNA of the Brazilian game, sapping the squad of its essential identity and squelching the creativity that has characterized its best teams.

19 thoughts on “Two analyses of Brazil’s defeat

  1. Well, that’s a pretty solid analysis…

    Yeah…, corruption… Many people would be nowhere without it… And many others are nowhere because of it…

  2. There is a savage analysis by Jim White in the Telegraph. A short extract gives the gist:

    “Winning became everything. All that mattered. For the politicians who had staked so much on this project, victory was essential. If they couldn’t provide the bread, they had to make sure they offered the circus.”

  3. I’m Brazilian and that is true. The CBF is totally against the national clubs. If the the national team is playing a friendly match, the Brazilian Tournament doesn’t stop. The Brazilian clubs are strained.

    Last year, Fluminense (a national club) went to the second division but CBF turn over the decision sending a smaller club (Portuguesa).
    UNIMED is the same Fluminense’s and CBF’s sponsor.

    So embarrassing…

  4. I sort of agree with both pieces, except that again they seem to be buying the myth that Brazilian football is normally exciting and creative, not like that boring ruthlessly efficient and unimaginative european football.

    Its nonsense. This team has played in the usual Brazilian style, they’ve just done it very badly.

    Hopefully this will do for Brazil what the mid-1950s gubbings by Hungary did for England. The 1966 World Cup was won on the playing fields of Budapest, and the 2022 World Cup could be won here if they react properly.

  5. My analysis of the Germany-Brazil game is simple – sh*t happens. Especially in low scoring, defensive sports like football and ice hockey. I mention hockey because the game yesterday is comparable to the “Miracle On Ice” game between the USA and the Soviet Union back at the 1980 Olympics. Given enough time, low probability events jump up and occur.

    I have always thought that if that 1980 USA team had played the 1980 USSR team 100 times, the USA might win once. That one time happened to be on Feb 22, 1980. Less than two weeks earlier, the USSR beat the USA 10-3 at Madison Square Garden. Soviet clubs went 5-3-1 against NHL teams. The USSR team beat the NHL All Stars 6-0. Only 5 of the 20 members of Team US would go on to have significant (more than 500 games) NHL careers. In 2008, the IIHF picked Centennial All-Star Team. It consisted of Wayne Gretzky, Borje Salming of Sweden and four members of that 1980 USSR team – Vladislav Tretiak, Viacheslav Fetisov, Valeri Kharlamov and Sergei Makarov. Talent wise, these two teams were in no way comparable.

    What happened on Feb 22, 1980, was not a miracle – just a demonstration of probability. The USSR had won the prior four Olympic medals and would win the next three. 1980 got away.

    Germany beating Brazil was not a huge upset. But Germany winning 7-1 was an anomaly just like Olympic ice hockey in 1980. From time to time, these things happen.

    1. It should be pointed out in your analysis of the USA vs USSR game that Soviet coach Viktor Tikhonov pulled his outstanding goalie Vladislav Tretiak after Jim Craig’s first goal. So the fact that the Soviets didn’t have their best goaltender, and possibly their best overall player, on the ice probably effected the results of that one game. Your statement about probability is accurate, but other variables are at play as well.

      1. For a low probability event to occur, you do need unusual things to happen. I think Tikhonov eventually admitted that pulling Tretiak was a stupid move. It is not that Myshkin played poorly, but it was a move that shocked both teams and gave the Americans hope that they could win. That and Mark Johnson’s goal (which led to Tretiak being pulled) that tied the game 2-2 with less than a second to go in the first period.

        Brazil was not playing poorly at the start of the game. If they had lost 2-0, some of these critiques may be valuable. But Germany scored three times in less than three minutes starting at 23 minutes. And the game fell apart. How do you explain such a collapse? I don’t know.

        When Johnson scored that goal at the end of the first, he went through two defenders to get a rebound of a shot that Dave Christian took from center ice. Most of the Soviet players left the ice thinking the period was over, not knowing that the game was now tied. Everything changed at that moment – pulling Tretiak was the cherry on the sundae. Jim Craig stood on his head – USSR outshot USA 39-16. But USA won 4-3.

        1. FWIW If you look at the stats (possession, shots on goal, corners, etc) the teams were very close, with Brazil being ahead on some counts.

          Stats can be very misleading if generalized!

    2. I. Ain’t sin that Canada beat the USSR in 1972 because we were better. Something I like to tell Russians in a friendly jabbing way. 🙂

      1. I think Russians would say that Canada cheated – Bobby Clarke broke Valeri Kharlamov’s ankle. I realize that Canada won the Summit Series 4-3-1. But the series was supposed to be a joke – a way for the boys to get ready for the upcoming NHL season. Instead, it completely changed hockey – for the better.

        Bad thing to come out of the Summit Series – it made a national hero of uber-christian Paul Henderson. He created problems in the dressing room when he insisted that his teammates behave more in line with his morals – and he tried to get beer banned.

  6. I wonder if there is a utilitarian approach to soccer fuelled by an uncompromising desire to win coupled with corruption, if we see authoritarian attitudes stifling players.

    Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about top down dogmatic authoritarianism and how that leads to sloppiness from disgruntled people involved in any process. You see it played out in societies, corporations and teams.

    I pondered today if humans have a drive toward hierarchies and authorities that bite us. I think we do because as hated as it is, we tend toward those schemes and inevitably it destroys us over and over to the point that we put safe guards in to stop authoritarianism.

  7. In _my_ analysis, Sweden’s World Cup elimination rounds goal difference record still stands: 8-0 against Cuba in the bronze final (1938).

    Yup: Just wanted to contribute to the sports coverage with the usual boasting. =D

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