BELO HORIZONTE Brazil (Reuters) - For a team that had just crushed hosts Brazil 7-1, smashed a few records, and reached a World Cup final, Germany’s manager and players were astonishingly cool on Tuesday.
Clearly as stunned by the game as the Brazilians themselves, the Germans showed the utmost respect towards their humiliated and weeping rivals, hugging and consoling them at the end.
They also chose their words carefully afterwards, expressing sympathy for Brazil’s pain and keeping the focus firmly on Sunday’s final rather than celebrating their astonishing win.
“Until today, Brazil played a magnificent World Cup. They are a great team with great players,” said magnanimous coach Joachim Loew, avoiding any semblance of ‘schadenfreude’, the word Germany gave the world for delighting in another’s pain.
“As hosts, they have delivered a fantastic tournament.”
Germany’s understanding of Brazil’s pain comes from their own traumatic semi-final defeat on home soil in 2006, though the 2-0 extra time loss to Italy was hardly as devastating.
Brazil’s loss was the most shocking in World Cup history and their first home defeat in 64 competitive matches since 1975.
“We had great hopes in 2006 too and you can feel the pressure that the hosts have in a match like this,” Loew said.
“All 200 million people here want you in the final. That can make your players tighten up. I feel sorry for him (Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari). I think I know how he feels.”
Germany’s boss was pleased his team saved their best effort in the World Cup for the Brazil match, a rout that wiped away memories of the tense 2-1 last-16 win over Algeria which triggered widespread criticism back home.
But he said there was no room for jubilation given Sunday’s looming final against either Argentina or the Netherlands.
“Now we will have to be modest and humble and prepare the next step. There was no euphoria. There’s happiness in the dressing-room but we did not lift off... we don’t want to over-rate this. The players have their feet on the ground,” he said.
”Nobody should feel invincible. Both teams, Argentina and Holland, have had an excellent World Cup. Both have strong players. (Lionel) Messi, (Gonzalo) Higuain, (Robin) Van Persie, (Arjen) Robben are players who can decide a match.
“It will not be like this semi-final,” he added.
Toni Kroos, who scored two goals, was named man of the match and the midfielder’s strongest performance in the World Cup epitomised Germany’s improved game.
“We started getting a goal every five minutes and put the match away quickly,” said Kroos. “It was an unbelievable match... We beat Brazil in their own country. That’s impressive by itself. But we’re not at our goal yet. We want to win on Sunday.”
Germany captain Philipp Lahm said his team were just pleased to make it through the semi-final after getting knocked out at that stage in 2006 and 2010. He acknowledged they had not played as well in earlier matches at the World Cup.
“It’s a long tournament with a lot of matches. Not all seven matches could be at the top level. We had to improve throughout the tournament and that’s the goal - to win the World Cup.”
Germany defender Mats Hummels said the celebrations in the dressing-room after the match were relatively subdued because the outcome had been decided before halftime.
“We were astonished by what happened on the pitch,” said Hummels. “We should just savour this moment and enjoy it. It’s something special what we’ve accomplished. We’re going to do everything to fulfil the big dream we still have.”
Additional reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; editing by Ken Ferris