World Cup 2014: Ranking Brazil’s Historic Loss
In a tournament that often decides winners with penalty kicks, Germany almost won by a touchdown. I think the Jacksonville Jaguars took 10 weeks to score that many points in 2013. In 833 World Cup games since 1930, there had never been one like this. And to think, it happened against Brazil.
It’s easy to forget the first seven minutes of the game. Brazil dominated possession. Neymar and Silva be damned, they were going to win. Brazil won nearly every single contested ball. They looked precise, and Germany looked befuddled. After that, pick your metaphor: the wheels fell off; the plane crashed into the mountain; Brazil sucked.
And not just “they had an off-game” sucked. This was more “soccer empire crumbles on international stage” sucked. Entering the game, Brazil was truly the world’s reigning – if not the world’s only – soccer superpower. They’ve won five World Cups and made it to the Finals twice more. They’ve recorded more goals and wins than any other team in World Cup history. After Germany scored their first goal in yesterday’s semifinal, you learned maybe the most impressive STAT of all: Brazil is the only country with a winning record when the opponent scores first, 15-12-3. Soccer is part of the nation’s fabric, in the people’s blood, the country’s true religion. You can’t overstate the importance of soccer in Brazil. And you really can’t overstate the significance of Germany’s 7-1 thrashing of Brazil.
But I’ll try anyway. How many goals does it take to break your opponent’s will? We never really got to find out – Germany scored too frequently to notice the point of drop off from Brazil. We do know definitively that effort wains when trailing by seven goals though. Here are some STATs from the game to ponder:
- Brazil hadn’t lost that badly in ’94 years.
- Brazil didn’t allow 5 goals during the entire 2002, 2006, 0r 2010 World Cups.
- Brazil allowed Germany 5 goals between the 11th and 29th minute, or in just 18 minutes.
- It was the largest loss by any team in the knockout stage ever.
- Buried in the barrage of goals, Germany’s Klose scored his 16th World Cup goal, stripping the title for most goals scored in World Cup history from Brazil’s Ronaldo, who finished his career with 15. Talk about adding insult to injury.
As Nate Silver, ESPN’s STATs guru, explains in detail, Brazil’s 1-7 loss was the most shocking result in World Cup history. By Silver’s calculations, Germany had a 35 percent chance of winning. Yep, he knew Germany could win. But by those same calculations, he concluded they had a 0.025 percent probability of winning by six goals. That’s how unlikely their margin of victory was. Similarly, for Brazil’s fans, it had to be 99.975 percent unexpected, and probably 100 percent the worst loss they’d experienced in their lives.
How bad was it? Silver tries to tackle that too. In football terms, he puts it on par with the Jacksonville Jaguars (who I’ve somehow now mentioned twice in this article) beating the Miami Dolphins during the playoffs in 2000, 62-7. It was Dan Marino’s final game. I agree, that’s pretty rough, but I don’t think that’s quite on par with the suffering occurring in Brazil right now. Brazil has the most fanatical fans in soccer, maybe in all of sports. As I’ve mentioned, their team has five World Cups, more than any other team. Their team was hosting this World Cup. By every metric and STAT provided, they were the heavy favorite to win it all. And they didn’t just lose, they lost by six goals, an unheard of margin of defeat in soccer. No, sorry Silver, but this was more like that fourth Super Bowl loss for Buffalo Bills fans. That’s the level of heartache Brazil’s experiencing right now. Fight for third place? They don’t even want to look at a soccer ball. The nation’s mourning the death of their deity.
Some soccer fans will look back on this game and simply say, “The German national team shouldn’t be allowed to play FIFA ’14 on beginner. This is what happens.” Others will say it was karma – Brazil recored the most faked injuries in this World Cup, with 17.
I look at it this way: For all the Brazil fans crying in the stands, at least they cared enough to cry. And most impressively, they never left–even when their team was down 7-0. Surely, the soccer gods reward loyal fans. And hey, for their loyalty alone, they’ll always be better than Miami Heat fans.
(Photo courtesy of Adrien Sifre via Flickr)