Brazil’s road to the semi-finals in this World Cup had begun to remind me a lot of France in 1998. The team appeared to be riding an increasing wave of public emotion and getting results, sometimes luckily and without ever convincing. Tonight’s emphatic result in Belo Horizonte brought that comparison to an abrupt end and exposed the psychological fragility of this Brazilian side. After conceding the killer blow that was the second German goal the Seleçao stopped playing for the next five minutes. Unfortunately that was all the time their opponents needed to score another three. Like a modern-day “Maracanazo”, this performance will no doubt wear on the national psyche and probably take a long time for Brazil, its players and fans to recover from. Yet while it may set them back a few years, it has also restored my faith in the nostalgic notion that Brazil’s football is unlike that played anywhere else — I can’t conceive of any other national side capitulating in such a manner at this stage in the competition. But I have to concede that my wife put it best when she said that the result was a perfect metaphor for Brazil’s questionable preparation for this World Cup, on and off the pitch.

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