Ahead of the titanic battle between heavyweights Brazil and Germany, pundits had their bets on what would have been ‘a game of two halves’ – the good old cliché. A total of nearly 66,000 fans showed up at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata, proving that this particular clash was nothing less than the final. And it did live up to the expectation as two second-half wonder strikes from Weverson and Paulinho respectively brought the house down as Brazil took their chances to outmanoeuvre their lacklustre German counterparts.
A game of two halves. The first half in Germany's favour and the second in Brazil's.
The Brazilians were left in awe of the sea of yellow inside the stadium, waving A Auriverde flags, but Germany coach Christian Wueck believed the massive support for Brazil would be a blessing in disguise for them. The crowd went bonkers when Alan, also known as Alanzinho, rattled the crossbar in the sixth minute. However, Jann-Fiete Arp, the 17-year-old forward from Hamburg, silenced the ‘Brazil…Brazil’ chants with a cool finish from the penalty spot in the 19th minute, which was also his fifth goal of the tournament.
Having scored their 10th goal of the World Cup, Germany relied on their traditional style, intercepting the ball and quickly releasing it for a quick counter. A sight that neutrals would just sit back and admire. Germany’s obsession with counter-attacking football was fully on display.
As expected, there were chances aplenty for Wueck’s side, but the Brazilian goalkeeper was hardly troubled. Brazil’s Wesley and Lucas Halter communicated well at the back to stop Germany’s wingers from cutting in in search of Arp, for a tap-in. Brazil came close to drawing level and that was just an indication of things to come for the German defence.
While entering the dressing room at the end of the first half for a pep talk with his young bunch, it looked like Wueck knew that Brazil were just getting warmed up. The midfield duo of Lincoln and Paulinho had already caused problems for the German defensive unit by creating space for their wingers and with quick one-twos just outside the opposition box. Brazil coach Carlos Amadeu didn't look worried about being behind as the goal-scoring opportunities in the first half gave the Brazilians enough confidence to turn the tables in the next 45 minutes.
Brazil knew that the equaliser was on the cards.The frustrated Brazil fans at the stadium were getting impatient. But after the lemon break, Germany succumbed to Brazil's high pressing and ended up misplacing a number of passes in their own half.
Then the long-awaited moment arrived. The collective 'oohs' and 'aahs' didn't have to last long. The fans in Kolkata screamed their lungs out when Weverson lashed the ball past Luca Plogmann in the 71st minute to draw his side level. And it was no surprise that Weverson, along with his teammates, ran towards one of the stands filled with fans wearing Brazil's yellow jerseys, to celebrate the goal. More than an equaliser, it was a wake-up call for Germany. They could have been leading 2-0 or 3-0 at half-time had they finished their chances off in the first place.
All of a sudden, Brazil appeared to be a completely different side. Amadeu was continuously monitoring Paulinho’s movements and was even seen giving instructions to his full-backs. Germany, who played with a five-man midfield, were outplayed in a space of six-and-a-half minutes. A spell of slick one-touch passing between Alan and Lincoln led to Paulinho belting one from outside the box to send the crowd into delirium. Germany were stunned. They missed chances and let Brazil dominate in the middle of the park and eventually paid for it.
The time was running out for Wueck's team to get back into the match, but yet again, they let themselves down due to poor finishing in the final third. Credit goes to Brazil, who parked the bus whenever they sensed a German attack. It was a well-deserved come-from-behind win for Amadeu's Brazil, and after the full-time whistle, defender Wesley, accompanied by his teammates, danced their way towards the Kolkata fans to thank them for their immense support throughout the match.
For Brazil, the England challenge awaits in the semi-final at the very same stadium after FIFA ruled that the pitch in Guwahati, which has been affected by severe rainfall over the past few days, was not in a condition to host the marquee match. Germany would be kicking themselves over squandering opportunities – a malaise that coach Wueck had been concerned about since the start of the tournament, despite his team scoring 10 goals during the competition. It is party time for Brazil and they would be hoping to recover from a shaky start that almost cost them a place in the last four if they are to go the whole nine yards.
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Updated Date: Oct 24, 2017 20:43:29 IST