Reason 2: theconfederations cup mask
Brazil lit up in 2013: they lifted the Confederations Cup in front of over 70,000 fans at the Maracanã, with a convincing 3-0 win over 2010 FIFA World Cup champions Spain. The star of the show? Neymar.
After a brilliant national anthem, main striker Fred scored twice and Neymar scored a spellbinding shot from an acute angle. Paulinho hit the crossbar, and David Luiz heroically cleared the ball of the line from Pedro’s shot. It was a perfect, a truly spectacular, performance. And it wasn’t just this game that caught the eye of the footballing world… it was the whole Confederations Cup campaign. Each game offered its own flavour: a fantastic goal against Japan by Neymar in the first game, more group wins against Mexico and World Cup giants Italy, and an 86 semi final winner against Uruguay saw Brazil into a final. But it wasn’t the World Cup final.
The reality was that the nations Brazil faced in that tournament were weak in the 2014 themselves. Japan finished last in their relatively tough group. Mexico lost to the Netherlands in a tough round of 16 game. Italy, four time World Cup winners, were knocked out in the group stage as they lost out to Costa Rica and Uruguay. Uruguay lost to Colombia in the first knockout round. And Spain… the holders and number one FIFA ranked nation in the world also didn’t make it past the group stage. So, the Brazilian triumph of 2013 over ‘winning’ nations actually wasn’t incredible at all? None of the nations they faced even made it into the World Cup quarter finals. Brazil were actually indeed far far weaker than what it had seemed before.
With few changes between the 2013 and 2014 squad, the players are obviously largely at fault for 7-1 too. Those players in the Confederations Cup seemed like heroes at the time. One year later, they would be the opposite of ‘heroes’. It is important to note some of their 2013/14 seasons, between the two tournaments, were also not great. For example, Hulk was playing in an abysmal Russian league for Zenit. Oscar, backed by Mourinho as the ‘best number 10’ over fan favourite Juan Mata in November 2013, finished the 2013/14 season with just three assists. Fred only managed 3 league goals in 9 appearances in the 2013 season, due to a few injury problems, but bounced back to finish the 2014 season as the top leading goalscorer. However, as we know, he did terribly in the World Cup, scoring one goal. And 1.64m tall Bernard was playing in the Ukranian league, with only 18 league appearances and 3 goals in all competitions. That was the attacking force Brazil had against Germany. Ridiculous. Other players like Maicon, who was playing his last years of his football career, or David Luiz, who was constantly criticised by UK media in his years at Chelsea, were other players featuring in that game… Compare that to other winning Brazil squads in the past.
Brazil were far weaker than what the people actually thought in 2013. In addition, their Confederations Cup opponents were also clearly very weak too, so the pre-World Cup tournament was actually not really a challenge at all. No wonder they had a few struggles in the World Cup, like they had against Chile. It was possibly one of the worst Brazil World Cup teams ever. The 2010 team wasn’t much better, but 2014 was very, very poor. It was a shame to have such a weak team playing in a home World Cup. 7-1 seems a lot less of a surprise with such a spineless, weak team playing an organised team like a Germany. And Neymar was injured, of course…