How Germany Reacted to the Semifinal Beatdown on Brazil

They hadn’t seen anything like it in a long time

At 9 a.m. German time, Thomas Müller, the German forward who started Germany’s massacre of Brazil in last night’s semifinal, tweeted his continued disbelief at what had gone down in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. It’s a sentiment that pretty much sums up the mental state of Germans everywhere. A 7–1 Germany win over tournament host Brazil, a team that hasn’t lost a competitive match at home since 1975, is the kind of result you don’t dare dream about, because it’s not possible. But it just happened. And a record 32.57 million Germans were watching.

In Germany, the day had ticked past beneath an overhang of low, dense clouds. People trudged to work in the rain and worried the time away in damp Germany jerseys. Those who went so far as to predict a 2–0 German win were regarded as foolish optimists. This was going to be a street fight. A 2–1 win for Brazil was more realistic. The absence of Neymar and Thiago Silva be damned; Germany was still the underdog.

When Müller opened the scoring in the 11th minute, the sense of relief in the Heidelberg bar where I was watching was nearly palpable. When Klose scored 12 minutes later, a sudden stillness swept through the place, as people seemed to realize something was wrong with Brazil. “This could get ugly,” I said to an American friend, and it did. Germany completely bossed the game, scoring five goals in a record 29-minute span, and the fans here spent a healthy hour or so singing a song you hear in stadiums here when things are going well for the home team:

Oh, wie ist das schön
Oh, wie ist das schön
So was hat man lange nicht gesehn
So schön, so schön!

Oh, how beautiful
Oh, how beautiful
We haven’t seen anything like this in a long time
So beautiful, so beautiful

At one point, when a shot of Ronaldo in a television booth appeared on screen, the crowd halfheartedly jeered. Klose had just scored his 16th World Cup goal, breaking Ronaldo’s record, another victory for Germany over Brazil. (By the end of the night, Germany would also surpass Brazil for first place in total World Cup goals scored.) It was too loud to hear what he was saying. Only later did we find out he was congratulating the German player, which was classy, but by then all of Germany was in full-on party mode.

When not singing, people mostly just stood there and giggled, unable to quite believe what had happened. And, when the final whistle blew just before midnight, that’s how the night went on, in a kind euphoric haze: crowds of people singing, fireworks popping off, lights reflecting off the wet cobblestone, the ominous presence of riot police on otherwise quiet city streets, motorists honking and responding, their passengers leaning out windows, waving flags in the rain; even city bus drivers couldn’t help but let off an occasional blast.

Of course, this being Germany, things are being quickly put back into perspective. People woke up this morning, rubbed their eyes and pinched themselves, and then they started to think about the final, warning one another over breakfast that this win has nothing to do with that match.

“I sense that the team will remain grounded,” Germany coach Joachim Löw said after the match. “You should never feel invincible.”

It’s my sense that the German fans will remain grounded too. They enjoyed their moment, but like Löw, don’t expect them to get carried away.