After Humiliation Against Germany, Brazil Must Go Back to 'Joga Bonito' Roots

Janusz Michallik@@JanuszESPNFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2014

Brazil players leave the stadium at half-time during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between Brazil and Germany at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Frank Augstein/Associated Press

I am still sad about what happened to Brazil on Tuesday against Germany. I have no reason for it, of course, but it is sad to see a nation humiliated. This isn't just any nation. This is Brazil—and at the same time it was not. A listener told me that the reason most are shocked and sad is because Brazil is everyone's second favorite football country after their own. I think I actually fall in to that category. You probably do as well, if not now at least at some point in your life.

The names of famous players come easily to mind, the great teams of yesteryear, the images of kids playing on Copacabana, the joy of Joga Bonito, have probably contributed to those feelings. I remember wanting to emulate the greats when I was growing up, the dream to one day play in the Maracana, the feeling that the game is so important for the nation. This must resonate with every kid, every player around the world, to see their sport put on the highest of pedestals. Maybe there is a little bit of envy on my—and every player's—mind to see how effortlessly many Brazilians have mastered the game over the years.

Frank Augstein/Associated Press

The German team put a stop to all of that in six minutes, as their footballing masterclass silenced a nation. It felt uneasy watching it, as if the greatest nation in our sport had died.

Remember when we used to say that Brazil was three-deep in every position? Heck, we often said that they have enough talent to put three teams in the World Cup and they would all do well. That was not the feeling we had before this tournament. In fact, we felt that there was not enough talent for one. We all knew it, but we were perhaps a little afraid to admit it. I know I was.

We all live in the past at times, and this is where Brazil has been for a while now. The need to be pragmatic to deal better with the changing game that became fast and physical paid dividends for them in winning World Cup titles in 1994 and 2002. Dunga's team, well, it played like Dunga. He was important and excellent in his job as a player, and every team needs one like him, but you don't want a team full of them.

This might be a chance for Brazil to look back, to go back to their roots a little bit. The wonderful skills, the flicks and tricks, the wow factor. The Joga Bonito. Balance will surely be needed, but maybe a message to those kids playing on the beach and all young players in Brazil that the technical ability, creativity, individual brilliance is back in style.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 08:  Brazil fans watch the first half on Copacabana Beach during the 2014 FIFA World Cup semi-final match between Brazil and Germany on July 8, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The winner advances to the final at the famed Mar
Mario Tama/Getty Images

By being pragmatic over the last 20 years, the managers have sent a message to young players and perhaps some youth coaches that in order to make it to the highest level, players must be developed differently, against what perhaps always came naturally. Maybe it is time for Brazil to go back to their roots and revisit the beautiful game. 

This one will hurt for a long time, and will not be erased easily—well until Brazil wins another World Cup. The team's dependence on Neymar became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even better talent is there and someone will pay the price of this loss in the future World Cups.

For the immediate future, it is best to take Brazilian World Cup winner Gilberto Silva's words to heart, as quoted by @philgatt from the player's original tweet in Portuguese:

“We have to be humble enough to accept our mistakes, and humble enough to learn from them.”