El World Cup Diario, Day 28: The show must go on
On the morning after the night before, the 200 million people of Brazil woke with a terrible hangover and hoped it had all just been a bad dream. Tonight, they told themselves, they would play Germany in the first semi-final of the 2014 World Cup and they would make histor… oh, it wasn't a dream. Sweet Jesus.
The whole world – bar Argentina and Holland – spent Day 28 picking over the wreckage of the previous night's historic, shambolic 7-1 surrender.
Specifically, it was spent picking over the front pages of a million newspapers who had worked through the previous night to reflect the misery that now hangs heavy over All Brazil.
(In a nod to TV's AC Jimbo, El Diario writes this next bit accompanied by an unnecessary ice cream and a variety of foreign newspapers. He holds first example up...)
'Shame' cried Correio Na Copa – beside a picture of a fan wearing face paint in tears.
'Seleção suffers the greatest humiliation in 100 years of history' added Agora, over an image of a woman in face paint wailing loudly. (Although you couldn't hear the noise of her wailing on the front of the paper, obviously.)
'A shame for eternity' howled Correio Braziliense, over a montage of various people with painted faces crying.
"The biggest shame in history" screamed sports paper Lance, losing all sense of perspective as Brazilians are prone to do. And obviously it illustrated its headline with an image of crying fans in yellow and green face paint.
And it wasn't just the Brazilian press. The world's foreign front pages were quick to pass judgement too.
'World Cup Massacre' crowed Spain's AS.
'Humiliated' chirped the Italian paper Corriere dello Sport.
'Dwarf Elvis found in Bristol chippy" roared our very own Daily Star. "Tits on pages 3-38".
You get the picture, readers. Shock, dismay, face paint, tears and some very self-centred shoe-gazing by people old enough to know better as the sad truth dawned on them all. That Brazil – once mighty Brazil – have been reduced to the status of only the fourth, or possibly third, best team on the planet. Oh the horror. The horror!
Luckily, the Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, moved fast to assure her people that the storm would soon pass. Having been abused by fans inside the Estadio Mineirao the previous evening – with a throaty rendition of: “Hey, Dilma, ** *** ****** ** *** ***!” (sorry, readers, but this is a family diary and that is filth) – La Presidente took to Twitter, where she felt safe and brave.
"Like every Brazilian, I am very, very sad about this defeat," she explained. "I am immensely sorry for all of us. Fans and our players. But we won't let ourselves stay down." Then she quoted a popular Samba song, urging Brazil to “shake off the dust” and rise again.
Big Felipo Scolario made similar noises, pleading with Brazil's fans to "please excuse us". Not everyone felt forgiving though. At least one group of forgetful imbeciles burned a Brazil shirt bearing Neymar's name and number, while the newspaper O Dia slapped Scolario's face on its front cover with the headline: 'Va pro inferno voce, Felipao!' – translation: 'Go to Hell, Big Felipo!'
But Big Felipo is not a man to hide, so he faced his critics head on and with a steely glare. Or maybe a tired squint. "Who is responsible?" he asked, rhetorically. "I am. It's me. Who decided the tactics, I did. So the person responsible is me."
Describing it as "the worst day of my life", Scolario resisted calls for him to fall on his sword. "After the World Cup we will make a presentation to the CBF [Brazilian Football Confederation], where we will talk about the good and the bad that we have done, and [my future] will depend on the board," he said. "We have a deal until the game on Saturday and after that, probably, we will have a conversation to sort some things out."
Saturday? Oh God, yes, Saturday. Just when Brazil thought things couldn't get much worse, Big Felipo reminds them they still have to play the largely pointless third-place play-off. On Saturday night in Brasilia's Estadio Nacional, unless the locals burn it down first.
Day 28 was clearly a happier affair for the Germans, who woke up to equally ridiculous headlines of their own. The pick of their bunch was 'Guys, now you are immortal', splat large across the front of Berlin's Morgenpost, albeit in German.
However, over a breakfast of raw pulses and engine oil, the triumphant Germans seemed surprisingly rooted and calm. "The team is perfectly rooted and calm," agreed Jogi Low. "There is no euphoria. This team is ready to deliver. The final will be difficult but we want to win and will retain our concentration."
Few now can see anything other than a German triumph come Sunday night, with the great and the good lining up to pay tribute to an exhibition the likes of which we have never seen before and may never see again.
The most celebrated name of them all was Johan Cruyff, or @JohanCruyff as he prefers to be called when he's tweeting. "Germany was better," he explained. "Their ball control, movement & position play was superior. This is why I consider them the best team in the tournament."
Invaluable insight from one of football's greatest thinkers there. Of course, amid all the talk and tears, it was easy to forget there was another game of football. El Diario suffered all 120 minutes plus penalties and can confirm that Argentina beat Holland to finish runners-up on Sunday. So well done and commiserations.