Secret Footballer: Brazil had no answer

rss logoThursday 10th July 2014 12:13

Andre Schurrle: Helped kill of Brazil as sub for Germany

Andre Schurrle: Helped kill of Brazil as sub for Germany

The Secret Footballer hails Germany's brilliance and pinpoints Brazil's lack of leaders and top players, but insists they will recover in time.

As a footballer playing in the Premier League, the Secret Footballer wondered whether people would be interested in knowing what life is really inside the game.

After a hugely popular weekly column in a national newspaper and two best-selling books, he has now joined TEAMtalk.

His anonymity allows him to tell fans how it is, from inside the game without the shackles of pre-conception or fan bias.

Read the Secret Footballer's regular insights from inside the world of football at thesecretfootballer.com and follow his views on Twitter @TSF.

Brazil will recover from humiliation

"Hi, is Jose there, please? It's urgent!"

"No, I'm afraid he's out at the moment. Is it something I can help you with?"

"Well, I represent David Luiz. PSG would like to make an offer for the player."

"How much is it for?"

"£50 million."

"Hang on, Jose's just this second walked through the door."

Make no mistake about it: the 7-1 rout of Brazil on Tuesday evening by an extraordinarily efficient and ruthless Germany team was a great moment for football.

I stood in my local pub watching a masterclass in how to kick an opponent when he's down.

And I couldn't help think that the last time a footballing upset of this magnitude took place in Brazilian football, in 1950, the country radicalised its approach to the game.

It rebuilt its determination to succeed and, in a generation, won the 1958 World Cup in Sweden and then produced arguably the finest squad of players ever assembled and stormed to victory in the 1970 World Cup finals in Mexico.

Brazil knows how to respond to defeat.

A return to world dominance seems rather a long way off now but it will happen. It's just a question of when.

Early goal a killer for Selecao

In the meantime, Brazil are left picking through the wreckage of the heaviest World Cup defeat in its history. So why did it happen?

People will point to tactics and strategies, but the game can be broken down into smaller segments, and these segments have a huge bearing on how the rest of the game panned out.

The first goal was massive. The moment Thomas Muller scored, the Germans had something to protect; from a Brazilian point of view, it was hugely damaging to the mindset of the players.

When my team concedes the first goal, one thought dominates my mind: "We now have to score twice and we are not playing well enough to do so."

There is a lot of swearing in there as well but you don't need to hear about that.

The second thing that happens, almost as quickly, is that the team spirit that was carried on to the pitch from the changing-room immediately turns from an inseparable togetherness to a blame culture.

The fact that the first Germany goal arrived after only 11 minutes also served the purpose of killing the atmosphere in the stadium stone dead.

When a second goal is scored within 25 minutes, then a team knows that it is in serious danger of being embarrassed if it does not take certain measures.

But even then, the worst that a player would be thinking is: "This could be 4-0 if we're not careful."

Usually, the team changes tack to ultra-cautious mode, the defence drags the midfield back by five yards to plug the gaps, and one of the forwards, if not both, retreat just inside their own half.

The sole intention is to stem the tide and try to gain a foothold in the game by doing the basic things in an attempt to restore hope.

Brazil, however, threw in the towel.

A minute later, left-back Marcelo offered a clue as to what Brazil's resolve might look like if things really got out of hand by jogging towards Muller on the far touchline and turning his back as he jumped to block a cross from at least 10 yards away.

The ball eventually found its way to the outstanding Toni Kroos, who duly crashed it past a hapless Julio Cesar.

Brilliant Germany 'set the trap'

And it got worse. At 3-0 down, Brazil inexplicably decided to play out from the goalkeeper to the edge of their own box, then into the middle of the pitch where Germany had "set the trap" - as coaches like to call it.

Setting the trap is when a team drops off into a zone that encourages the opposition to play out from the back. The trigger is the ball into the midfielder.

Everybody who has played professional football and has been coached on the training pitch could see that Germany had set the trap. But, by this point, Brazil were dazed and confused.

The moment that a centre half - in this case, David Luiz - plays the ball into Fernandinho, who had come deep into his own half, is the point at which a team uncoils itself and springs forward to win the ball back.

It looked like a Brazilian mistake, didn't it? And it was to a certain extent. But it was a mistake that was forced by a brilliant German tactical decision.

Often the shout to set the trap comes from the midfield, who pull the forwards back 10 yards and then scream at them to sprint forward the moment that they see the centre-half's head look down at the ball as he is about to play the pass.

The point in the game at which to do it comes largely from instinct but any team that has ever played against a side that likes to play out from the back will have worked in training at setting the trap.

At one club I played for, we would practise this when playing against Swansea City.

Another great example of the trap could be seen when Southampton travelled to Anfield in September last season and beat Liverpool 1-0 by doing exactly the same thing.

The upshot in Belo Horizonte was that Fernandinho was robbed in broad daylight and Kroos scored again.

Not many teams come back from 4-0 down in a World Cup semi-final and thoughts turn almost exclusively to "let's salvage our pride".

Unfortunately for Brazil, they instead plumped for complete capitulation - and capitulation only happens when there are no leaders on the pitch.

If you look around the Brazil side that embarrassed themselves on Tuesday, there were no leaders. Not one.

All that remains in that situation is the potential for a rout. And that is exactly what happened.

A goal from Sami Khedira put paid to any hope of a comeback that even the most optimistic Brazilian fan might have harboured, and the game was over inside half an hour.

I have lost heavily in my time as a player but I have never been 5-0 down at half time. To be honest, not many players have.

The message from Brazil coach 'Big Phil' Scolari during that 15-minute break would have been one thing and one thing only: "Win the second half".

That is the saying beloved of coaches that have no answers to what is going on out there on the pitch and who know that their team have no answers, either.

Schurrle the perfect sub for Germany

But how heartwarming it must be for a manager to turn around to his bench and call on replacements like Andre Schurrle and the precociously talented Julian Draxler.

Schurrle, in particular, was possibly the best player that Germany could have chosen to put on at that moment, even if they'd had a free pick of any player in world football.

The last thing that a player who is on the receiving end of a hiding wants to see in that situation is a young man standing on the touchline with his hands on his hips, chomping at the bit to get on and who you already know is a runner and a goalscorer.

Schurrle didn't disappoint, either. Two goals in 10 minutes from the Chelsea star inflicted a painful lesson on Brazil.

Up until this point, remember, they were unbeaten in competitive matches at home in 39 years.

As a player, I'm afraid that only one thought would have remained: "Get me off this pitch asap".

The discipline of the Brazilian side is only that it keeps doing the things that it wants to do and not necessarily what it should do.

With 84 minutes gone and at 7-0 down, Luiz passed the ball from the left wing to Marcelo, the left back, who was standing on the edge of the German box.

To most of us in the game, it was an example of a side that had lost all its shape and organisation

Yet to 200 million Brazilians, the risk taking, the flair and the unorthodox approach to manipulating the ball in key areas is what typifies Brazilian football and is what is expected of the team.

Lack of talent the killer for Brazil

The difference between success and failure ultimately lies with the standard of the players available.

Every generation or so, Brazilian football produces a team of unimaginable talent. However, 2014 is not one of those years.

When it all comes together, it is spectacular; when it doesn't, there is genuine disbelief tinged with a sense of tragedy that comes when the expectation is only to win.

But success will come again for this great footballing nation because, fortunately, the Samba boys know of no other way to play the game.

"It's just like watching Brazil" came a shout from the back of the pub when the seventh Germany goal went in.

And it was ... only this time without the world-class players.

Read the Secret Footballer's regular insights from inside the world of football at thesecretfootballer.com and follow his views on Twitter @TSF.

You can also download the new TSF app for iOS or Android.

Comments

Loading

    Add Comment: