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Seventh heaven for Germany in historic World Cup semifinal

March 23, 2020

While Germany's 7-1 semifinal win against Brazil didn’t win them the 2014 World Cup, it was the moment they announced their return to the top of the football world. DW looks back at an historic night.

Fußball WM 2014 Halbfinale Deutschland Brasilien Jubel
Image: Reuters

Seven goals for Germany, the biggest World Cup semifinal win ever, the most goals ever conceded by Brazil, the fastest four goals in World Cup history, the fastest brace in World Cup history (69 seconds). 

The list of statistics and records that accompanied Germany’s historic win over Brazil went on and on. In a dream semifinal between two of the great footballing nations, the hosts were humiliated by a team destined to win it all.

Germany came into this dream semifinal match up having won three straight games by one goal. They’d beaten Algeria in extra time and, spurred on by Per Mertesacker’s famous post-match interview, they'd edged past France in a close quarterfinal. A brilliant Mats Hummels header and an outstanding Manuel Neuer were just enough.

Brazil, a loud and proud football nation, had sneaked their way into the final four, needing penalties to beat Chile and a more physical approach to see off Colombia. The price for the latter though, was the suspension of captain Thiago Silva and an injury to golden boy Neymar. 

The 22-year-old’s flair was the embodiment of football samba and there were national concerns that without him, the Selecao and their dream for a sixth World Cup title, would be lost.

Brazil's players react after suffering a humiliating loss to Germany
Brazil's players react after suffering a humiliating loss to GermanyImage: Reuters

But Brazil’s World Cup dream was not just about to be lost. Germany buried it so deep that to find it again was to invoke a painful, traumatic memory.

Four in six minutes

First it was Thomas Müller, drifting in to score an unmarked header. Then came Miroslav Klose tucking in a rebound to become the all-time leading World Cup goalscorer in the process (16). Toni Kroos drilled in another one, putting his hands over his mouth as if to echo the disbelief millions of Germany fans around the world were feeling. The dream semifinal suddenly felt more like a blur.

Then Kroos and Sami Khedira passed the Brazilians dizzy before the former tucked home. As young Brazil fans wept, Khedira scored Germany’s fifth. Germany had scored four in six minutes.

Andre Schürrle’s second-half brace simply added to the disbelief. With every passing goal, it became harder to believe what was happening. When Oscar scored in the final minutes, the crowd almost jeered rather than cheered.

For Germany fans, it was a moment of disbelief
For Germany fans, it was a moment of disbeliefImage: Reuters

National pressure, the absence of Neymar and a remarkably high defensive line proved the end for the hosts. Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was certainly to blame in thinking his team could still deliver the same attacking sting without Neymar, but those in yellow that night were embarrassed by the men in red and black.

This was a ruthless Germany team not just destined to win but also determined to do so. Leading by just the one goal, Philipp Lahm made a superb tackle in the box to deny Marcelo. Sami Khedira and Mats Hummels were brilliant, and coach Joachim Löw kept making smart decisions as Germany’s long-term cycle of development peaked at just the right time.

On a night when Germany’s seven goals made the headlines there were also an endless number of small victories that made sure Germany won the game.

German football at the top

All the passion and hope Brazil fans had brought with them to their famous, hallowed Maracana stadium that night drifted away in a loud wail of disbelief and sadness. Such was the impact of the defeat that the expression “Goal for Germany” became a Portuguese exclamation delivered after a blunder.

Brazil fans couldn't believe what they were seeing
Brazil fans couldn't believe what they were seeingImage: Getty Images

The 2013 all-German Champions League final the year before had shown that domestic German football was built on a system full of very good players and exciting coaches. In Brazil, against Brazil, in the World Cup semifinal Germany’s national team proved that the country’s time had come.

The win in the final against Argentina was hard-fought, but it was the demolition of Brazil that made it feel like this was Germany’s World Cup. Without the title, this humiliation of Brazil would have been a historic footnote rather than a turning point in German football history. 

But it wasn’t and that meant in many ways, the 7-1 win was the moment Germany really announced their return to the top of the football world.

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