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Jul 8, 2014

Three points: Brazil left broken

Robbie Earle rates Brazil's lethargic performance against a rampant Germany side.

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil -- Three thoughts on a record-breaking night as Brazil were humiliated by a rampant Germany side on the march towards the World Cup final. 

1. An eternal embarrassment

After so many goals, there was only one description: Minerazo.

This was not as painfully dramatic as the 1950 loss to Uruguay -- forever remembered as the Maracanazo -- but that was only because it was possibly worse: It was so humiliatingly excruciating.

The details of Germany's 7-1 win -- and the sheer numbers alone are searing -- remain difficult to register. It revealed so much that the first boos were not heard until the 44th minute, long after the fifth goal had been scored. It was as if that was how long it took for the utter shock to wear off, to realise just how bad this was.

The dimensions to this defeat were as plentiful as Germany's goals. Given the history, the context, the politics, this may well be the most stunning World Cup match of all time.

It is extremely difficult to think of a result or event that compares in football history as a whole.

After a World Cup that Brazil had waited two generations for, they have now suffered a defeat that will take generations to forget.

The circumstances are almost cruel. The scale of the defeat certainly was. The competition Brazil have dominated and won more than any other country has also left them with their two most painful defeats.

They are of the type of defeats that very few victories can erode, that almost nothing can rectify.

Brazil now has so much to consider.

On their team bus for the World Cup, the message read: "Brace Yourself -- The Sixth is Coming." That took on dark tones. The game itself took on a scarcely believable gloom.

There was no sixth trophy. There was only a 7-1 defeat. Read it. It remains shocking. Brazil will never want to look at it again.

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2. Brazil was finally found out

As stunning as this event was, the elements were not that surprising. The signs were there. As their campaign went on, it did not seem as if they were building up to anything special. Instead, it felt like they were just about keeping it together, that they were set to crumble.

In virtually all of their games, they came perilously close to the edge. Chile were inches away from knocking them out, while a frantic physicality was needed to eliminate Colombia.

The very fact it came to that in the quarterfinal, however, revealed so much about this team. They never had the quality to win this World Cup.

By the end, too, the loss of their single world-class attacker in Neymar felt irrelevant. He couldn't have prevented this. There was always the danger of it happening, that they would unravel against a better side.

Yet it's still difficult not to think the hysterical reaction fed into the historic nature of this humiliation. The frenzy the entire country worked itself into saw the equal but opposite reaction on this pitch. Once the deeper problems were exposed, it all gave way.

Brazil are not this bad. They are not 7-1 bad. This was about something else.

This semifinal as an event was certainly something else.

3. Germany's champion credentials

Then there was Germany. What a statement. The story is all about Brazil's collapse, but they were the driving force -- in so many ways. It was not just about the implosion of the hosts. Germany imposed that upon them.

Sure, Brazil's awful defensive problems were the direct cause of that tone-setting first goal, as Thomas Muller plundered the ball into the net from close in.

Thereafter, though, the Germans brutally expanded the gap between the sides.

You only had to look at the interchange for the fourth goal, the emphatic finishes of the third and seventh, as Toni Kroos hammered in one and Andre Schurrle powered in the next.

Before all that, there was Miroslav Klose's second. What a situation in which to break a legendary Brazilian's record. Ronaldo was forced to congratulate the forward for his 16th goal on national television, adding insult to injury.

The only question is whether such a ridiculously handsome win is actually healthy for Germany, whether they could have benefited from a bigger challenge, whether this will blunt them.

After a semifinal against the most successful nation in World Cup history, that seems an astonishing thing to say.

This was just an astonishing event.

Miguel Delaney

Miguel Delaney is a London-based correspondent for ESPN and also writes for the Irish Examiner, the Independent, Blizzard and assorted others. He is the author of an award-nominated book on the Irish national team called "Stuttgart to Saipan" (Mentor) and was nominated for Irish sports journalist of the year in 2011. Follow him on Twitter @MiguelDelaney.