In shirt colour and quality, Brazil have set world football's gold standard. Germany's crushing of the hosts presents the game's No.1 power with a new struggle to retain their standing as the go-to nation for talent.
Juninho Paulista, a member of 2002 World Cup winning squad, called the 7-1 defeat in Belo Horizonte "an alarm signal for Brazilian football," adding: "Prioritising physical force from the lowest levels has limited our players and we forgot what's best about Brazil: the midfielder who can create."
A sceptic would say "physical force" was one of the virtues Brazil lacked, as the best midfield at this tournament rolled over Fernandinho and Luiz Gustavo and then demolished David Luiz and Dante. Brazilian machismo, much discussed in the build-up, descended into feebleness.
Yet Juninho's point is well made. The 11 players who earned nought out of 10 in the Brazilian daily O Globo carry a double burden. Already they have taken up a slot in their country's history as ghosts in the most embarrassing result since the 1950 final defeat to Uruguay at the Maracana.
Back at their clubs, they may no longer appear to fans as the reliable core of any self-respecting Champions League side. Those £25 million price tags may look wonky on players who appeared woefully prosaic against the magisterial Germans.
In the stadium and on the streets that night, mortification took precedence over anger. The expected eruption of disorder never materialised (or not in the immediate aftermath). As one media bus made its way back into town, a Brazilian man rushed from a bar to make an obscene gesture at journalists and yank at the badge on his replica jersey. Some girls tried to rip a flag from the car of triumphant German supporters. For the most part, though, shame and bewilderment shaped the reaction.
A personal theory is that the rampant emotionalism of Luiz Felipe Scolari's players burned up a lot of the hysteria. The overcooking of Neymar's absence - the No.10 shirt held up for the anthem was cringe-inducing - turned what should have been a tactical and technical challenge into an opera for a lost brother. Luiz's weeping at the end may have rendered many Brazilians too startled to indulge their own despair, though many cried. The players themselves were so obviously broken men that it may have seemed unnecessary for the population to take on the role of mourners.
The pathos was already taken care of. The damage to the credibility of the game here, however, is universal, and may even be felt in downward pressure on transfer fees and wages as clubs seize the chance to reclassify Brazil as a B-grade provider of talent.
The statistics say that in last season's Champions League there were 52 Brazilians, with only Spain (78) and Germany (55) supplying more combatants. England had 23.
One recent count of Brazilian footballers across the globe reached 1169, an extraordinarily high number. There were 606 in the top divisions of 40 European nations. France was next, with 579. This illustrates the scale and value of football for Brazil as an export industry. In the short-term, the 7-1 thrashing is bound to dim the glow of players such as Paulinho, Fernandinho and poor Fred, who was dismal. Rightly or not, Brazilian midfielders may seem factory-produced.
This defeat was worse than 1950, most commentators here agreed, because it was a wipeout, in a Brazil World Cup, by a country who have stolen the Brazilian way of sumptuous passing and kaleidoscopic pressing. Toni Kroos might have been an illustrious Brazilian No.8, threading passes and seeing the whole landscape of the pitch. Thomas Mueller might have been the darting, eager figure in an old Selecao. First Spain devised a national style of play that relegated Brazil to the chasing pack. Then Germany threatened to open a new era in international football, annexing Ronaldo's World Cup scoring record, though Miroslav Klose.
Brazil's media led the assault, with O Globo proclaiming a day of "Embarrassment, Shame, Humiliation," and insisting: "Brazilian football has only one solution: to resuscitate. Brazilian football has to be born again. It has to be reborn."
Now they know how England feel. We keep this kind of apocalyptic language on a loop. Maybe Brazil's mistake was appropriating so many English names. Fred, Bernard and Jo may have sucked them into the mire. It is a flippant point, but even the names of these Brazilian players lack the resonance of a Socrates or Ronaldinho. Or perhaps we just sensed a while back that they were unusually short on creativity.
Fernandinho, who will return to Manchester City under a weather system to match the area, is among those facing a struggle to forget, or at least recover. "Incredible things happened," he said, like a man at the scene of an accident. "We can try to explain for the rest of our lives, but we cannot find the words to explain this situation. I've never experienced anything like that in my life. It's the first time. I'm not sure how long it will take for me to get over this. This pain is big, big. All we can say is sorry to the people."
There is a huge financial incentive for the Brazilian football industry to find solutions. This great country cannot send its players abroad with a sign saying: "Buyer beware."
The Telegraph, London
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