Brazilians collapse under expectations

14:13, Jul 09 2014
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A young football fan wears a Hulk mask in support of star Brazil player Hulk.
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A football fan shows his colour at Mineirao stadium.
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German fans didn't want to be outdone.
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It's an all-ages gig at the stadium.
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Mick Jagger was spotted in the crowd at the stadium.
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There's more than one way to score in a football game.
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Brazil might need some superhero help to get them home after losing their own superstar Neymar.
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Fan fervour is reaching fever pitch as Brazil and Germany warm up for the semifinal.
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It's all green and yellow at Mineirao stadium as fans gather for the Brazil vs Germany football World Cup semifinal.
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German player girlfriends Lena Gercke and Mandy Capristo amongst the 62,000 fans at Estadio Mineirao.
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Outnumbered, but Germany fans won't be outspoken.
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The trophy will be theirs...
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Estadio Mineirao - fit for a World Cup semifinal.
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MEANWHILE IN BERLIN: Thousands of fans celebrate at the fanzone near the Brandenburg Gate.
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TEARS FOR BRAZIL: A fan looks on in disbelief as Germany go ahead 5-0.
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STUNNED: Brazil fans can't believe their World Cup dream's nigh on over.
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A NATION BROKEN: A Brazilian woman looks on in disbelief as Germany ruins the nation's World Cup dream.
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Brazil fans on Copacabana Beach watch the calamity unfold.
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A dejected Brazil fan watches on.
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A German fan shows his delight as his side wipes the floor with Brazil.
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A distraught Brazil fan watches her side destroyed.
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Disbelief for Brazil fans after the World Cup hosts bundled out of the tournament by Germany.
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Germany fans wave their colours with pride at Estadio Mineirao.
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There were cheeky looks in the crowd from Germany fans as Brazilians looked for solace.
Tears for Brazil
Tears for Brazil.
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Brazil fans watching the semifinal against Germany on Copacabana Beach devastated by 7-1 loss.
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A football fan shows his fury at Brazil after their embarrassing 7-1 loss to Germany.
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A boy looks on in disbelief after his team Brazil is beaten 7-1 in the World Cup semifinals.
bRAZIL FANS
Brazilian fans react to their crushing defeat.

Brazil rode a wave of emotion, patriotism and prayer to reach the World Cup semifinals but today was the day when the weight of expectation caught up with them.

Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari tried to explain their 7-1 defeat by Germany in purely footballing terms, saying their opponents played superbly and took their chances against a Brazil side that played poorly.

But that is only half the story. In truth, the Brazilians lost the match in their heads as much as on the pitch.

''Let's put it into context. The hosts were unable to cope with the pressure,'' Germany coach Joachim Loew told reporters after the astonishing match.

''After two goals, they were confused and they never got re-organised. We realised they were cracking up and we took advantage of it.''

Former German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn also believed Brazil's downfall was due to the weight of expectation of 200 million fans who demanded that on home soil their team would win the World Cup a record sixth time.

''This team didn't have enough experience to come to terms with the pressure of a big tournament like this in their own country,'' Kahn said.

''They fell apart emotionally today completely.''

A Brazilian psychologist offered a different explanation.

''I don't think that these factors are distinct, the emotional, physical, the technical,'' Jose Anibal Azevedo Marques said.

''The way I see it as a sports psychologist is that it is unfair to say we lost 7-1 because we were unfit, or we lost 7-1 because we weren't emotionally prepared. It's all part of the one thing.''

Marques said Brazil switched off during a 10-minute period and were punished mercilessly for it. Teams often have these blackouts, he said, but rarely does one side's disastrous spell coincide exactly with their opponents' purple patch.

''I work with football and it is not uncommon to see players switch off during games. What is uncommon is a team like Brazil switching off during a game as big as the semifinal of the World Cup.''

Oscar
PAINFUL ENDING: Oscar leaves the field in tears after Brazil's 7-1 thrashing by Germany.

WEPT OPENLY

At the end of the match, Brazilian midfielder Oscar fell to the ground, his face buried in his hands, and wept openly on the pitch. Captain David Luiz was also in tears.

Midfielder Luis Gustavo and left back Marcelo fell to the ground in prayer, as some fans wept, others booed, and many just looked on open-mouthed.

There had been signs of Brazil's emotional fragility in previous matches at this World Cup but against Croatia in the tournament's opening game and Chile in the second round they managed to hold it together.

The loss of Neymar to injury in the quarterfinal against Colombia triggered an outpouring of grief that seemed to weigh on the team.

Asked about Neymar's absence and the emotional state of his players going into the match, Scolari said: ''Let's not try to find an excuse in Neymar, or emotions.

''What happened is that Germany at a certain moment imposed a fantastic rhythm ... that has nothing to do with Neymar, or emotions.''

Throughout the tournament, the Brazilian players entered the pitch with hands on each others' shoulders, praying, crossing themselves and sometimes crying with emotion.

Whereas that showed their passion, it also pointed to anxiety and an emotional fragility that contributed to their downfall.

The contrast with the grounded Germans who, even after such an astonishing victory, were calm and collected, could not have been greater.

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Reuters