World cup 2014
World Cup Diary

World Cup diary: Brazil's psychologist has work cut out after team's mental breakdown

Manager Big Phil must shoulder nearly all the blame for humiliation, but the team's complete psychological collapse - epitomised by David Luiz - was something to behold

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 July, 2014, 3:06am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 July, 2014, 11:36pm

“Brazilian players often have a different perception of the same situations as other players. It’s a real cultural question, the way they behave and the way they behave differently than others. They are much more intense than players from other countries, whether it’s for the good or the bad. Managing the emotions is critical for Scolari.”

- Brazil's team psychologist Regina Brandao in December

Plenty has and will be written on the hosts' night of shame, but we'd like to know especially what Brandao was thinking as the goals went in. 'Any professor positions available outside Brazil,' perhaps.

There was plenty of attention on her in the build-up, with Brazilian media worried - rightly it turns out - by the overwrought displays of emotion by their players.

(For background, here is an interesting interview with her in the New York Times from which the opening quote is taken.) 

"With Regina we speak about all sorts of things, even things that aren’t related to football, to make sure we’re at ease," Thiago Silva told a news conference ahead of the semi-final against Germany.

"If we’re not at ease off the pitch then things might not happen as we want on it."

Hmm. Yeah. Remind us how that worked out again.

Brazil have not seemed at ease in the entire tournament. They've cried before, during and after games and roared out the national anthem as if their lives were at stake - that's perhaps how they felt.

Even David Luiz's goal celebration in the previous match, neck muscles threatening to pop his head into orbit like a champagne cork, seemed worryingly excessive. As did the tributes to fallen hero Neymar - non football fans might have been surprised to learn he had hurt his back slightly and not actually died.

The team, and David Luiz in particular, seemed to suffer a complete mental breakdown against Germany. David Luiz had two roles: Neymar's as 'figurehead of a nation' and Thiago Silva's as key defender. He crumbled completely under the pressure and failed at both.

Even at 2-0, if he had rallied the team, forced them to stay solid, tight and disciplined for 10 minutes, it could have been the start of a recovery. Instead, his dream collapsing, appalled that he was letting down his country, he - and the rest of the team to be fair - lost all discipline completely and three more goals immediately followed, destroying any hopes of escape.

Big Phil Scolari must shoulder nearly all of the blame of course - poor squad and team selection, limited tactics, etc - but after seeing the likes of David Luiz and Oscar bawling wrecks at the end, it'll be interesting to see if Professor Brandao also faces a grilling for her small part.

Reddit user tellman1257 has been collating newspapers from the big games. Here are 50 Brazilian variations on SHAME / HUMILIATION / DISASTER etc. The Metro front page is our favourite.

Here's three of the pieces we enjoyed the most from what seems destined now to go down in history as the Minerazo:

Serious tactical analysis by Michael Cox.

Amusing tactical analysis by Thom Gibbs 

A very good overview of the state of Brazilian football now by David Goldblatt.

Meanwhile, the game broke all records on social media.

Twitter said 35.6 million tweets were sent, beating the previous record set at the Super Bowl in February, nearly 25 million.

This map of the world going up in flames shows the volume. (Interestingly, Twitter's never really caught on in Germany, though their team did post one of the classier tweets, below.)

It's a measure of how appalling Brazil were that there wasn't even enough time between goals to fire off a snide tweet about how appalling Brazil were.

Could sponsorship begin at home for Yingli?

Away from the mauling in Mineirao, here's an email from a reader with an interesting take on the Yingli adverts prevalent at games

This World Cup has an essential Chinese element in the ubiquitous advertising boards of Yingli Solar. Yingli comes from my home Baoding. My local football team, of which I had been a keen member, plays Yingli's amateur team often. My team has no outside sponsors; what we have, we spent with the richer guys in the team subsidising poorer teammates. My team represents an essential part of our local community. We as a group go to each other's wedding and funerals. We bond together to serve to encourage civil society.

Yingli's amateurs have more money, and much better players, faster legs and more standardised game preparations than us. They are the Dutch team to our Mexico or Costa Rica at the current World Cup. They also have a beautiful team coach to travel in. Their captain is a senior executive of the Yingli Group who drives expensive supercars to games. They are logical, practical, realistic. We are romantic, fearless and foolish. They are rich and powerful and control the grand narrative of our day, we are the marginalised and disempowered in comparison.

When we last played them at their home ground, we were given only a box of 24 bottles of drinking water at pitch side. We were not offered anything else, nor do we, being proud northerners of cold winters expect any handouts. We lost but we played hard. We laughed on our way home in our packed rented van.

Still, should we not kindly remind them that they could, in additions to spending millions in advertising at the World Cup, also consider sponsoring some local teams and local competitions, especially youth football?  That would help us to feel much more love :)

Del Dong, 

Solicitor, Hong Kong