I wasn’t sure about many things after Germany’s 7-1 obliteration of Brazil. Everything from gravity to entropy was questioned.
Then the ‘no YOU go play Germany’ match between Argentina and Netherlands happened and the universe righted itself. Thanks, I guess? But if such is the case then the Brazil loss has to now be explainable within the laws of our known existence.
It’s known Brazil’s squad wasn’t comprised of immeasurable talent at every position as it typically is. They had holes, colorful holes, but holes nonetheless. It’s like using tape and Victoria’s Secret magazine cutouts as band-aids. But even with these exploitable gaps they made it to the semifinals. It can be said both teams eked out results in every match leading up to their meeting save for one.
The difference was Neymar. While that’s not shocking news, what might be is that it has nothing to do with his talent, skill or goal-scoring.
This Brazil squad was under an immense amount of pressure. Not just to win, but to try and make up for their government funneling money away from areas that need it. The football team was trying to unite the country and at the very least give them the distraction of a fond memory. Neymar absolved that burden. The joy he plays with is reminiscent of greats past. Neymar took the responsibility, smiled at it, and made the game fun again. Whether it was a flick, a quick turn, or a near miss…it oozed with joy.
Without that, Brazil felt the full weight of their expectations all at once. They took the field with non-Brazilian glares. Scowls and mid-eyebrow wrinkles adorned their faces before the match. They looked like they were about to grab a microphone and announce themselves as new heels of the WWE.
That’s not the Brazil I know.
In this match, Brazil needs to find that joy again and give their fans a party. Netherlands will be disinterested and overmatched by the atmosphere. Shackle Robben (hint: HE’S GOING LEFT) and they’ll be free to Samba on the ball as they please.
Fred is useless so Scolari should set them up to attack by committee. Start Willian and let Hulk play forward. This will give them a natural progression through midfield and allow runners to create problems.
Brazil need this far more than the Dutch. There are still problems left for Brazil and will be long after the World Cup is over. Let’s hope this team finds a way to let them party for at least 90 minutes.