RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s dream of winning the World Cup on home soil was shattered on Tuesday when it suffered a humiliating 7-1 loss to ruthless Germany in an extraordinary semifinal in Belo Horizonte.
The carnival atmosphere that had swept over the samba nation during the tournament gave way to a state of shock and disbelief as Brazil suffered its heaviest ever defeat.
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari apologized to the entire nation and said it was his fault the team lost one of the most incredible World Cup matches ever played.
“The blame for this catastrophic result can be shared between us all, but the person who decided the line-up, the tactics was me. It was my choice,” Scolari said.
“We tried to do what we could, we did our best — but we came up against a great German team. We couldn’t react to going behind. Not even the Germans can tell you how this happened — but it’s because their skills and you have to respect that.
“My message for the Brazilian people is this. Please excuse us for this performance. I’m sorry that we weren’t able to get to the final — and we’re going to try to win the third place match. We still have something to play for.”
Germany played superbly but was aided by a woeful Brazilian defense, which conceded five goals in a devastating 18-minute burst in the first half.
An unmarked Thomas Mueller got the first from a corner after 11 minutes before Miroslav Klose struck to become the World Cup’s all-time leading scorer with 16 goals.
“We started really super,” Klose said in a televised interview. “We had such a great harmony, you can see that in training. We’re a real unit and we showed that on the pitch today.”
Germany’s Toni Kroos grabbed two goals in three minutes before Sami Khedira added a fifth in the 29th minute as boos rang out around the Mineirao stadium and young children in the crowd started to cry.
German substitute Andre Schuerrle struck twice more late in the second half before Oscar scored a last-minute goal that was of little consolation to the five-time world champions.
“This is the worst defeat that Brazil has ever had, but it happened,” Scolari said.
“Life goes on, my life will go on, we have to look into those details [of the match] and see what we can do differently.”
Germany now have the chance to win the World Cup for the fourth time. It will play the winner of Wednesday’s 4 p.m. semifinal between Argentina and the Netherlands in Sunday’s final in Rio de Janeiro.
Many fans at Copacabana Beach, who had been happily singing and dancing with excitement before the game, left before halftime, traumatized by what had just unfolded.
In Germany, the celebrations were in full swing, with hundreds of thousands of people flocking to the avenue stretching from the Brandenburg Gate to the golden statue-topped Victory Column.
Organizers extended the fan zone to 1.3 kilometers in anticipation of the massive crowd who roared with excitement as each goal was banged into the Brazilian net.
“Five goals in 18 minutes. It’s clear that they were shocked and didn’t know what to do,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said.
“We played well in the first half obviously. But it continues. We need to be humble. We don’t want to overvalue this.”
Germany’s win came exactly 24 years to the day since its last World Cup win in 1990, when it beat Argentina in the final. Germany lost to Brazil in the 2002 final and was knocked out in the semifinals when it hosted the tournament in 2006.
“We had great hopes in 2006 too and you can feel the pressure that the hosts have in a match like this,” said Loew.
“All 200 million people here want you to get to the final. That can cause your players to tighten up. I feel sorry for him (Scolari). I think I know how he feels.”