BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — With Neymar out injured, just about everyone in Brazil knew it would be tough against Germany.
Nobody ever expected this.
The Germans tore apart Brazil’s porous defense time and time again Tuesday, routing the hosts 7-1 in the World Cup semifinals, the largest margin of defeat at this stage in the history of the tournament.
“We wanted to make the people happy … unfortunately we couldn’t,” said Brazil defender David Luiz, who had scored in each of the last two matches. “We apologize to all Brazilians.”
The astounding scoreline is sure to overshadow Miroslav Klose’s record-setting 16th career World Cup goal. The strike pushed Klose past Brazil great Ronaldo, who was at the Mineirao Stadium on Tuesday as the Germans advanced to their eighth World Cup final.
Germany will face either Argentina or the Netherlands on Sunday at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro with a chance to win for the fourth time.
Brazil was playing without Neymar, the team’s key player and the poster boy for the World Cup. He scored four goals in the group stage but Brazil’s attack seemed to get weaker and weaker as the tournament progressed. The Barcelona striker was ruled out of the tournament with a broken vertebra after getting kneed in the back in the quarterfinal win over Colombia, weakening the sputtering attack even more.
With Neymar sidelined and captain Thiago Silva suspended, the collective hopes of a nation remained high even if expectations were lowered.
The atmosphere at the start of the match was spine-tingling but the euphoria of the yellow-shirted thousands soon turned to tears as the Germans scored five goals in the first 30 minutes — four of them in a 7-minute span.
“It was very important to stay calm, cool and courageous in facing Brazilian passion,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said.
The loss matched Brazil’s most-lopsided defeat ever and it’s the first time the team has lost in an official competitive match on home soil since 1975, when Peru won 3-1 at the very same stadium in the Copa America. Its last loss at home came in a friendly with Paraguay in 2002.
Previously, Brazil’s biggest World Cup loss was 3-0 to France in the 1998 final. In the 1920 the South American championship, the predecessor of the Copa America, Brazil lost 6-0 to Uruguay.