I really must stop my late night port and Stilton snack before bedtime. It gives you the weirdest dreams. Last night I dreamt that Brazil lost 7-1 at home in a World Cup Semi-Final. Really? No, please you’re kidding me – what do you mean it wasn’t a dream…
It was quite simply the craziest six minutes of a football game I have ever seen as Germany scored four goals against a Brazil side that simply imploded, and in the process tarnished the name of the great Brazilian teams of the past. Do I feel sorry for them? Not a bit. The antics of Marcelo and coach Scolari in the opening game against Croatia and their fortunate penalty in that fixture set me against the hosts from day one. And in amongst their spineless display against Germany last night, they dived and were cynical in the tackle. Okay they aren’t the only team in this tournament doing it, but for me the myth about Brazil and their tradition for the ‘beautiful game’ was shattered. Credit to the Germans they beat what was in front of them and good luck to them in the Final. Congratulations also to Klose for setting a new record for goals in World Cup Finals.
What that result does is keep alive my images of 1974; British referee Jack Taylor, that first minute penalty, Cruyyf, Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller – the incredible structure that was the Olympic Stadium in Munich. It was the first Final I remember watching and it will always take me back to a time of youthful innocence.
For a repeat of that ’74 Final the Dutch have to overcome Argentina. The game later today brings back memories of the 1978 Final in South America which the hosts won 3-1 in extra-time. Those ’78 Finals were the first time I watched most of the games and can remember staying up in the early hours, listening to the wonderful commentary of David Coleman. But the teams also met four years earlier in West Germany in 1974 when the Dutch romped to a 4-0 win – ‘total football’ with goals from Cruyyf (2), Rep and Krol. A time when the phrase, ‘the future’s bright, the future’s orange’ referred only to Dutch football.
More genius was to follow when the teams next met in 1998 and is remembered for the memorable finish from Dennis Bergkamp in time added-on to clinch a 2-1 win which took the Netherlands into the Semi-Finals. However for all those classic Dutch memories, the last meeting in the Finals came in 2006 in Germany when they met in the group stages and they played out a 0-0. We’ll forgive both teams for that one as both teams had effectively qualified for the knock-out stages.
What can we expect tonight? After last night, to try and make any sort of prediction about the result seems like madness. Surely nothing will top the events in Belo Horizonte?
Make mine a large port…