Monday, January 22, 2018

Now for the main course

Marlon Miller logo13

Mark Fraser

 PORT OF SPAIN was in mourning, far less Rio. In the most ruthless World Cup result ever, the Germans embarrassed the host nation, “humiliated at its own party”, wrote the Associated Press, unleashing a river of tears all around Brazil, while the beer flowed in Berlin.

Here at home, before that tragic Tuesday evening was over, one supposedly diehard Brazilian fan had discarded the green, yellow, and blue flag that was once fluttering proudly on his car.

Another rather chatty one is said to have uttered just nine words in the two hours after the game. Talk about licks!

The one-time gods of football were left slaughtered and shamed, with their sad supporters shaking their heads in utter disbelief.

I must admit that I was on the bandwagon for this one with Brazil and I was among the dumbstruck looking on at the blitzkrieg in Belo Horizonte.

Thanks to a luck-of-the-draw pull from the hat before the tournament, I had $100 on Brazil at what worked out to be better than 20-1. …I should have known it was too good to be true!

Actually, I did know, from the tournament’s opening game, when a friendly referee made the score-line more convincing than it really was, then Mexico held the Selecao to a goalless draw, and the writing was definitely on the wall when they pulled off a great escape against Chile.

Almost the same line-up that cruised to the Confederations Cup title a year before was now a ragged bunch of individuals, with only Neymar rising above the mediocrity around him.

But 12 months before, there was no great pressure on them, against some opponents who were on a summer sojourn and others who had taken a step too far.

ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas pointed out that having not had to go through qualifying, the Brazilian players’ resolve was never tested and they had no idea what to do when their backs were against the wall, especially without Neymar to pull a few tricks from his hat and skipper Thiago Silva to add some steel to the defence.  

Brazil’s demise proves without doubt the World Cup has progressed to a whole new level, with Spain being the first to learn that reputation and past glory count for nothing when lean and hungry teams like Costa Rica and Colombia are lurking in the shadows.

And when crunch time arrived, the hometown boys ran into the ultimate footballing machine, a true team, with each individual playing their part to the final whistle.

Only thing is that Tuesday’s result was already assured after just 30 minutes and Brazilian supporters were leaving the stadium in droves at half-time, while more bitter ones were burning the national flag.

Today, their one-time heroes have to scrape themselves off the turf to tackle the determined Dutch, while tomorrow, Argentina, their most hated rivals, will attempt to stop the Germans and leave enemy territory with the Copa Mundial.

Oh, the agony!

As jointpop’s Gary Hector would say, though, “the irony of it all” is that Rocky—their biggest fan who has taken the defeat like a man and was wearing his yellow jersey with pride the day after the shellacking at the Mineirao Stadium—pulled Germany from the hat and has them at the same odds as I had his beloved Brazil.

But he can’t escape the fact that his home venue, which he had christened the Maracana, will now be known as the “Maracryar”…at least for the next four years. 

In the meantime, all of Planet Earth will be watching on Sunday when Messi takes on the Machine.