Brazilians saw their dream of winning a World Cup on home soil disappear for a second time after allowing a record seven goals against Germany. Many left the arena in tears before halftime, too stunned to watch any more.
The host trailed 5-0 before a half-hour had passed at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte. The 7-1 scoreline was the worst defeat in the soccer-crazed nation’s history, dashing hopes of overcoming the national tragedy of losing the final game of the 1950 World Cup at home.
Brazil spent $11 billion preparing to host the tournament, the first on home soil in 64 years, with the national squad tasked with delivering nothing less than a record-extending sixth title. Memories of the failure may last longer than the pain endured six decades ago when Brazil lost the final game to Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium.
“It’s embarrassing,” said Alberto Portugal, 56, one of scores of fans wearing Brazilian jerseys who were streaming out of the stadium mid-game. “We are supposed to be the team that plays beautiful soccer.”
After the match, officials reported isolated disturbances with military police in Rio saying some fans fled a viewing party on Copacabana beach after a fight broke out. Globo News showed images of buses burning in Sao Paulo, though it wasn’t immediately clear if the vandalism was a reaction to the game.
The buildup to the match was dominated by discussion about how Brazil would overcome the loss of top scorer Neymar, who suffered a fractured bone in his back in the closing stages of the quarterfinal win over Colombia. Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari called in a sport psychologist to ensure the players could deal with their teammate’s absence.
“Of course, they had higher pressure on their shoulders,” German midfielder Toni Kroos told reporters. “They had to become world champions at home. Of course we had a load on our shoulder, but theirs was heavier.
Brazil was hurt further when its captain and defensive leader, Thiago Silva, lost an appeal to overturn a one-match suspension for accumulating two yellow cards.
To ease Brazil’s anxieties, a member of the back-room staff poured salt on the field before the game, a tradition common in Brazil to bring luck.
It didn’t work. Germany, a three-time champion that lost to Brazil in the 2002 final in Yokohama, Japan, wasn’t fazed by the pressure created by Brazilian fans as the game kicked off.
The Europeans took the lead in the 11th minute as Thomas Mueller took advantage of the first of several defensive lapses that led Germany to score five unanswered goals in 18 minutes. Mueller smashed the ball after David Luiz and Dante, Mueller’s teammate at Bayern Munich, missed Kroos’s corner.
Miroslav Klose then tapped in a rebound for a record 16th World Cup goal. Kroos added two in three minutes as Brazil’s defense capitulated amid jeers from the home fans.
‘‘There were 10 minutes when I don’t know what happened,” Brazilian player Marcelo Vieira da Silva said. “Today was the worst day of our lives.”
Once Sami Khedira knocked in the fifth goal, Brazil supporters started deserting the stadium. Many of the remaining fans broke down in tears.
“The first goal was a shock and then it just got worse,” said Rayssa Mayrink, 37, an office administrator who paid 156 reais ($70) for a ticket, as she left the stadium during the interval. “I am going to try and block it out of my memory, but it’s not going to be easy. I thought it was better to leave.”
Things deteriorated further after halftime as substitute Andre Schuerrle added two more goals, including the seventh that condemned Brazil to its biggest-ever defeat. Oscar got Brazil’s only goal in injury time at the end of the second half.
As soon as referee Marco Rodriguez blew the final whistle to end their agony, Brazil’s David Luiz and Luis Gustavo dropped to their knees to pray. Luiz, who was captain in Silva’s absence, burst into tears and Oscar had to be comforted by coach Scolari.
A team that was cheered on to the field by a packed stadium left it to a chorus of boos and empty seats.
While many Brazilians wept, others said they were resigned to the loss and even had a sense of humor about it. Renato Nakazato, a 37-year-old designer, walked along Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo with two friends playing a funeral march on a toy horn. In the same city Eder Araujo laughed after saying he left a job to be able to watch all the World Cup matches.
“Apparently it wasn’t worth it,” Araujo, 32, said.
Some in the stadium jeered President Dilma Rousseff, who had promised to host the “cup of cups” as she runs for re-election in October. She wrote on her Twitter account that she was saddened by the defeat, also using lyrics of a popular Brazilian song to urge the nation to overcome the loss.
“Losing 7-1 is a great disappointment, something that will go down in history,” Luiz Carlos, a 52-year-old cook, said in Rio. “Brazil will never be able to erase that shame”
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at firstname.lastname@example.org Randall Woods, Robert Jameson