Real life came back to Brazil abruptly when it was hosed by Germany in the World Cup in midweek. The president admitted that. Her political fortune might have gone up in flames with it, but that’s her life. Today, the football team gets a chance for some redemption, or the complete cementing of their legacy as loses. They play for third place against Holland, who have been frequent losing finalists. What should Brazil do? Play the A team, which capitulated so badly that they all should be sent for psychological assessment? Put in the B team, which clearly wasn’t good enough earlier to pull any rabbits out of hats? Play some new combination? Mix and match? If they win, what will it matter? It’s not for the big banana. If hey lose, it just goes to prove that they were kittens in paper bags and a bunch of whatever pejorative Brazilians use.
I would not want to be Coach Scolari on any day, least of all this one. His star player, Neymar, save some ignominy by being injured for the naked ice bath, has an agent, as do all the big footballing kahunas. He also goes by one name, Ribiero. He wrote on his Twitter account a sarcastic list of credentials to be a Brazilian national coach:
‘One – being Portugal Coach and winning nothing.’
‘Two – going to Chelsea and being sacked the following day.’
‘Three – going to coach in Uzbekistan.’
Four – returning to Brazil, taking over a big team [Palmeiras] and getting them relegated to the second division.’
‘Five – leaving the club 56 days before the end of the Brasileirao [season] to ‘escape’ the relegation.
‘Six – being an old jerk, arrogant, repulsive, conceited and ridiculous.’
Now, Ribiero may really know diddly squat about football, but knows how to grab headlines. Last year he insulted the god of world football, Pele, who’d called Neymar “ordinary”, after disappointing national displays. Agent Ribeiro took out his pointed matchstick and jabbed Pele, saying his comments were pure “jealousy”, and insisting the Brazilian veteran would be an “inferior” player in today’s footballing world. Okay. I think Pele would be on any all-time team, if not the first pick. But, I’m no agent, so what do I know? So, children, let’s put away the toys and sing one more verse with Barney. “I love you. You love me. We’re just one big family…”
The match will be in Brazil’s administrative capital, Brasilia, while the final will be in Rio, the one-time capital and heart of the national spirit. The carnival and samba, and favelas and girls from Ipanema capable of walking onto any national men’s football team and beating the world, save their own men’s team. Well, that was a nice dream. Now, bitten by reality as if the arm of Ivanisovic were in the jaws of Suárez, Brazil is going to be the butt of jokes for all-time. It all happened in the worst of places, in Brazil. Not in the sun baked desert of Qatar. Not in the frozen steppes of Russia. Not in the lung-burning altitude of Mexico City, where they had already reached unreachable heights. But, in Bela Horizonte.
Nothing pretty to see there.
It will be the end of the tournament for the hosts, and the stage will be set for the visitors to fill on Sunday. Neymar has thrown his hat onto Messi’s head and Argentina to win. He probably hates himself for backing the arch rivals, but how could he back the true Weltmeisters, Germany, after they shown that his teammates had no backbone?
That seems to sum up where the Selecao are: nowhere they want to be.