Brazil's $11 Billion Heartbreak: 'We Are the Team That Plays Beautiful Soccer'

July 9 (Bloomberg) -- Bloomberg Businessweek’s Brendan Greeley discusses the German elimination of Brazil in the 2014 World Cup. he speaks on “Bloomberg Surveillance.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Brazilian soccer fans cried as they saw their dream of winning a World Cup at home crushed after their team allowed a record seven goals from Germany.

The 7-1 scoreline yesterday 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. Scores of fans wearing the national team’s yellow and green jersey left Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte at halftime when the country trailed the semifinal match 5-0.

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, who left the stadium mid-game. “We are supposed to be the team that plays beautiful soccer.”

Germany on July 13 will face the winner of today’s matchup between Argentina and Holland in its eighth World Cup final. Brazil plays today’s loser July 12.

After yesterday’s 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 clear if the vandalism was a reaction to the game.

Match Buildup

The buildup to the match was dominated by discussion about how Brazil would overcome the loss of top scorer Neymar, who suffered a fractured a 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.

“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.

Didn’t Work

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 cheering Brazilian fans as the game kicked off.

The Europeans established 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 yesterday. “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.

‘A Shock’

“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.

Funeral March

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”

Interactive Graphic: Bloomberg Visual Data

Interactive Graphic: Bloomberg Visual Data

To contact the reporters on this story: Tariq Panja in Belo Horizonte, Brazil at tpanja@bloomberg.net; Alex Duff in Belo Horizonte, Brazil at aduff4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net; Philip Sanders at psanders@bloomberg.net Randall Woods, Robert Jameson

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Photographer: Leo Correa/AP Photo

Brazil soccer fans cry as they watch their team lose 7-1 to Germany during their 2014 FIFA World Cup semi final match inside the FIFA Fan Fest area on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 8, 2014.

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Photographer: Leo Correa/AP Photo

Brazil soccer fans cry as they watch their team lose 7-1 to Germany during their 2014 FIFA World Cup semi final match inside the FIFA Fan Fest area on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 8, 2014. Close

Brazil soccer fans cry as they watch their team lose 7-1 to Germany during their 2014 FIFA World Cup semi final match... Read More

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Brazil defender Marcelo reacts after Germany scored during their semi-final match at Estadio Mineirao on July 8, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Close

Brazil defender Marcelo reacts after Germany scored during their semi-final match at Estadio Mineirao on July 8, 2014... Read More

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Thiago Silva and David Luiz of Brazil following their 7-1 defeat to Germany during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Close

Thiago Silva and David Luiz of Brazil following their 7-1 defeat to Germany during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil... Read More

Photographer: Marcus Brandt/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Photo

Toni Kroos of Germany celebrates with teammates after the scoring a goal during the FIFA World Cup 2014 semi-final match against Brazil at Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, July 8, 2014. Close

Toni Kroos of Germany celebrates with teammates after the scoring a goal during the FIFA World Cup 2014 semi-final... Read More

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Thomas Müller of Germany celebrates scoring his team's first goal during their 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match against Brazil at Estadio Mineirao on July 8, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Close

Thomas Müller of Germany celebrates scoring his team's first goal during their 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final... Read More

Photographer: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Miroslav Klose of Germany celebrates scoring his record-breaking 16th World Cup during their 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match againt Brazil at Estadio Mineirao on July 8, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Close

Miroslav Klose of Germany celebrates scoring his record-breaking 16th World Cup during their 2014 FIFA World Cup... Read More

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Interactive Graphic: Bloomberg Visual Data

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