It’s been a record-breaking, nail-biting week in Brazil: the World Cup 2014 semi-finals left the world speechless and the host nation’s pride in tatters. Our on-the-ground author Kevin Raub witnessed it all.
Fortaleza Fan Fest during BRA vs COL. Image by Kevin Raub / Lonely Planet
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Kevin’s been in and amongst the Brazil action for the whole tournament, but he never expected this… Follow him at lonelyplanet.com/world-cup/author.
‘Everything started out so promisingly in Fortaleza. The city was awake in festive cheer as soon as the sun rose, as Brazil prepared to play Colombia in their much-anticipated quarterfinal clash. The beach promenade in Meirelles and Iracema was packed with revelers: drinking, chanting, eating, doing interviews with various news organizations, buying anything they could get their hands on that was green and yellow and just generally living it up – all before breakfast (including the cerveja!).
Colombians were in much smaller numbers; unlike Brazilians, I’m not sure they anticipated being in this match, so few tickets were around by the time they realized they needed to buy them. But overall, the award for best atmosphere and Fan Fest – laid out on the sand of Iracema Beach – goes to Fortaleza.
The match itself didn’t end up being the Battle Royale it was anticipated to be. The host nation prevailed rather triumphantly, but at a cost no Brazilian would have imagined: Brazil’s poster boy, Neymar, left in the 88th minute on a stretcher after a crushing blow to his back courtesy of Camilo Zúñiga that not only failed to draw a card of any kind, but left Brazil’s hopes and dreams with a broken vertebrae and out of World Cup play.
The hangover was excruciating. Germany loomed on Tuesday: what would Brazil do without their star and Thiago Silva, who would be on the bench due to his accumulation of yellow cards? Depending on who you asked, Brazilians were either extremely concerned or completely unfazed. After all, this is Brazil. Depth is not an issue and never is. They won the 1962 World Cup after losing Pelé in the group stage, so there’s that.
Of course, Tuesday arrived and nobody could have predicted the outcome: an absolute, humiliating thrashing by the Germans. As we watched the national disaster unfold from a boteco in Vila Madalena in São Paulo, it was like witnessing an inexplicable, slow-motion, total collapse. Conceding the initial goal was survivable, but what followed – a blitzkrieg of four German goals in six minutes – had me commenting to my devastated Brazilian wife: “The Germans appear to be playing against a team of second-string third graders.” Brazil looked like deer in the headlights and Germany didn’t let up until it was 7 to 1, a complete and utter dismantling that set five World Cup records.
It must be said, however, that the night ended in samba. Brazilians always seem to find a way to be happy, even when it means they just …read more