Germany stuns Brazil to reach World Cup final

Before thirty minutes of the first half, Germany scores five goals against Brazil in World Cup semi-final match

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Toni Kroos turned in the performance of a career to help Germany completely dismantle hosts Brazil 7-1 in the first World Cup semi-final in Belo Horizonte. Kroos made a statement in the heart of Germany’s midfield – this is what you’re going to miss, Bayern.

On Tuesday morning, German newspaper BILD reported that Kroos had signed a five-year-deal to join Real Madrid this summer with his contract expiring at Bayern Munich in 2015. Kroos had never ruled out the prospect of leaving, openly giving credence to the idea of moving abroad – but the timing of the report seemed perfect.

If there was a definition of a flawless midfield performance, this was it. In partnership with Sami Khedira, another excellent performer on the night, Kroos co-ordinated the midfield operations, to suffocate Brazil’s vibrant style with a focus on direct and intense passing.

Real Madrid fans will be licking their lips at the prospect of Kroos and Xabi Alonso teaming up together in midfield.

Germany were in control. Unlike against Colombia, the Brazilians had no answer, by hook or by crook, to thwart their opponents’ midfield dominance. Kroos was churning out passes for fun in midfield to maintain the rhythm to Germany’s game. He completed 67 of 71 passes in the match, while making three successful tackles, also.

Kroos managed to score two goals on the night: two highlighting his anticipation of what is coming next, one of his biggest skills, and showing excellent technique in striking the ball with either his right or left foot.

This was in addition to Thomas Müller’s opening goal, Miroslav Klose’s record-breaking 16th World Cup goal, Khedira’s first-half strike and two from substitute Andre Schurrle who has now netted three times at the World Cup. Oscar netted a consolation in the first minute of stoppage time.

Germany’s four goals in six minutes killed the game as a contest in cold-blood. It’s the highest margin of defeat for Brazil since 1920 when they lose to Uruguay at the Copa America.

The Löw down

Separating the first-half into two is key – for the first 30 minutes, Germany were fantastic. Yet, they were afforded the luxury of being able to take their foot of the gas until the second period.

It was the best Germany had played collectively in some time. People had criticised the German national team for performances under Joachim Löw before the World Cup, and in the four matches before the France quarter-final victory.

They were preparing to peak at the right time, of course.

The German national team coach is one of the reasons for the general pessimism around the DFB-team at the World Cup. It was challenging to find vocally optimistic Germany fans, while most around Europe were putting their money behind the three-time world champions. But Löw has made things click in the last 10 days or so.

With Philipp Lahm returning to full-back, Germany looks more balanced at the back. It’s assuring for others across the backline, including defender Mats Hummels who has been, arguably, the team’s Player of the Tournament. It was a huge moment for the German coach – previously, he insisted Lahm wouldn’t be moved from midfield where he had played the first four games.

Müller-Klose combination

The Germans set-off with purpose and conviction, pressing as a structured unit and with intent. Müller had moved to the right-hand side, while Klose slotted into the centre-forward position. Not only did Müller, the Bayern Munich attacker, take his World Cup tally to 10 goals, scoring the opener from a set-piece, but he was a fantastic performer.

The 24-year-old has the reputation of being a ‘space investigator’; someone who can float around the pitch and take advantage of random pockets of space. But Müller was different this evening – he was a ball-carrier, taking the ball further up when under pressure and his movement caused havoc for left-back Marcelo.

There seemed to be a perfect understanding between Müller and Klose. If Müller drifted inside, Klose would be more than happy to filter a little closer to the touchline, even although that is not his normal game.

Breaking the record

Klose’s goal on 23 minutes helped double Germany’s advantage on the night, but finally secured the 36-year-old a place in the history books. Many idealists scorned at the prospect of Klose, who plays his club football with Lazio in Italy, leaping Ronaldo as the highest-scoring player at the World Cup finals.

But you can’t argue with the record. Klose has delivered 16 World Cup goals for Germany; from his heading-frenzy at 2002 World Cup; to leading the line on home soil in Germany, then adding to his record in South Africa and Brazil.

Attention now turns to the one prize Klose hasn’t won in his career – the World Cup. It’s hardly an achievement that will put his name in lights, individually, but his contribution and achievement will be written in German football folklore.

As will Brazil 1-7 Germany: a truly unbelievable occasion.