"Brazil's dreams of making a return to a World Cup final in the Maracana were shattered in the most agonizing manner as Germany inflicted on the hosts one of the most remarkable defeats in the 84–year history of this competition."
I lived in Argentina for two years back in the early 90s, during which time Argentina went all the way to the 1990 World Cup final. I've never seen an entire city go insane with joy like I did when Argentina beat Brazil 1-0 in the Round of 16, then beating Italy 4–3 in a shootout in the semi-final. Each was a massive party — the entire city of Bariloche emptied into the streets and the happy riot went on for hours. Men hanging off lamp posts. Girls wrapped in Argentine flags dancing with total strangers. Little children and old ladies running wild.
Then Argentina they lost the final and the Cup to Germany 0–1 when the referee awarded the Germans a penalty kick in the 85th minute. I walked the streets for a while after that loss. It was an utter ghost town. Total silence, the shock and despair as palpable as fog even though I couldn't see a soul.
We Americans don't understand the degree to which "The Beautiful Game" is entwined deep in the psyche of other countries. It's a second religion and the national players are the high priests. Much of the world just stops when games are played at this level.
A 1–0 loss is a heartbreaker.
2–0 is a crushing defeat.
3–0 is a blowout.
7–1? Four goals in six minutes? Five goals in 30 minutes? The lone Brazilian goal a meaningless strike in the closing minutes? The worst Brazilian loss in the history of the Cup, certainly in almost 100 years?
Yesterday's game will torture the Brazilians psychologically for the next 50 years and I'm not being hyperbolic. Every time they see the Germans play, that 7–1 match will be what they think about. It will stop haunting them either when the current generation starts dying out or they exact revenge on the Germans in some comparable way on the pitch. Their national pride is deeply wounded, despair now runs rampant, and they will spend the next four years questioning everything they thought they knew about how to play futbol. And the rest of the world will watch them, every play, every match, to see whether Brazil is recovering psychologically or self-doubt is feeding on itself.
Brazil's first World Cup match of 2018 is going to be very, very interesting.