Over the years, our writers have been there for some of the biggest opportunities in this game. In the latest installment of the multi-part series, they tell the story of the most real things they have ever seen in a match, some of which have a taste of the World Cup: Germany’s humiliation of Brazil in 2014, the US failing to qualify four years later and Ronaldo’s last story 1998.
Gab Marcotti’s choice: Germany humiliates Brazil at the World Cup
Competition: Brazil 1-7 Germany (2014)
Where: Belo Horizonte, Brazil
If something is upside down, that is Maracanazo 1950s – when the largest crowd that has gathered to watch a sporting event, estimated anywhere between 175,000 and 200,000, is packed to Maracana in Rio de Janeiro to watch Brazil squander the advantage and defeat of Uruguay, throwing away the World Cup they think they have won – will share space with Mineirazo 2014, another day of shame that tarnished the generations Selecao football player.
The host country was not very impressive at that point: Held by Mexico in the group stage, they needed a penalty to overcome Chile in Round 16 and were lucky against Colombia in a fierce quarter-final that saw Neymar injured. However, no German, who drew with Ghana and could be easily eliminated by Algeria.
But World Cup history is filled with teams that start slowly and then find their mojo. Seeing Brazil marching in Belo Horizonte, holding the Neymar jersey up high, I told myself that they might do it. The crowd at Mineirao is ready for it, it’s all about inspiration and emotion. Heck, why not?
Little did I know that, for the next 30 minutes, supporters around me will cycle through Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s stage of sadness.
2-0. 3-0. 4-0. Angry. I put this together because everything happened so fast. Three goals in four minutes. You must be kidding. The last down to Fernandinho – Surprised like all of us – robbed the ball in its own section.
What I remember most clearly is how many people vent their anger, with “Bra-sil! Bra-sil!” It was as if they were reminding the smugglers on the field in their golden shirts, while at the same time moving on to the next stage.
Bargaining. Say the name is enough and – presto – they will return to being Selecao Ronaldinho and Romario and Rivelino and O Rey himself, Pele. It lasts maybe a minute.
5-0. Depression. Sami KhediraStrikes are the final blow. Less than half an hour passed, Brazil five goals behind. At home. In the game, the country has waited 64 years to play. It is over. Fans file to the exit. Meanwhile, I really don’t remember what happened next. I know Final score is 7-1, but the last hour is blurry meaningless.
There is a fifth stage in the Kubler-Ross cycle: Reception. I don’t think Brazilian fans are there yet. And I’m not sure they will get there for a long time, if ever.
– Streaming ESPN FC TV and 30 for 30 football stories, including “Barbosa: Men who make Brazil cry” on ESPN + (U.S. only)
– I was there: Zlatan arrived | Zidane saw red | Donovan’s heroism | Ronaldo overhead | Messi is No. 1 | Liverpool startles Barcelona | Brilliant Barca | Flexibility of Ronaldo
The choice of Jeff Carlisle: U.S. failed to qualify for the World Cup
Competition: Trinidad & Tobago 2-1 United States (2017)
The place: Couva, Tobago
For pure mistrust, that is USMNT’s destruction of Trinidad and Tobago take a present. What made the night even weirder was that, although the United States lost most of the match, the results elsewhere seemed to provide a reprieve for Bruce Arena’s side. But Panama and Honduras scored at the end of their match, then Clint Dempsey hit the post for the U.S., and suddenly the American came out. The next morning it still didn’t seem real, but it turned out to be true. In addition, two and a half years later, the team remained haunted that night.
Vickery Team’s Choice: Higuain celebrates alone
Competition: Germany 1-0 Argentina (2014)
The place: Rio de Janeiro
Gonzalo Higuain thinking he had put Argentina ahead in the World Cup final, with the greatest potential moment of his career, and went celebrating like crazy, thrashing his victory into the air of Maracana. But that “goal”, as almost everyone knows instantly, ruled out for being offside and his team-mates immediately return to defense. It took a long time for Higuain to be removed from his personal reverie and accept the sad truth. Mario Gotze then scored an extra-time winning goal to give Germany a trophy.
Rob Dawson’s Choice: Lower Van Gaal!
Competition: Manchester United 3-2 Arsenal (2016)
Where: Manchester, England
It was never boring to cover Louis van Gaal, but watch him dive on the floor during the match against Arsenal strange, even for her. The look on the face of the fourth official Mike Dean made it better, while Van Gaal’s assistant Ryan Giggs just turned to leave, almost as if he didn’t want to be involved in what had just happened. The laughter inside the stadium lasts for more than a few minutes and the whole incident is another chapter in an extraordinary game, which is most remembered for Marcus Rashford scored two goals in his debut in the Premier League.
Sid Lowe’s choice: Real Madrid and Real Sociedad for six minutes
Competition: Real Madrid 2-1 Real Sociedad (2005)
This is the end of a abandoned game a month earlier because of fear of bombing. Madrid has six minutes to score and turn things around … and they did it thanks to a penalty that was converted from Zinedine Zidane. There was also a moment when Fabio Coentrao took his place on the Real Madrid bench with full boots and everything – only to be told he was not in the team!
Nick Miller’s Choice: Lampard Score against Chelsea
Competition: Manchester City 1-1 Chelsea (2014)
Where: Manchester, England
There is little that I find more strange than when players move after a long career in one club. This is somewhat like the first time you see a teacher outside of school; the context is not correct. Frank Lampard was so much a part of Chelsea, where he won everything in a 14-year career in which he scored more than 200 goals – so it was unthinkable to watch him play for someone else, and certainly not another Premier League club. Therefore, to not only watch it turns out to City, but score against Chelsea, strange to the extreme.
Graham Hunter’s choice: Ronaldo exits, then enters
Competition: Brazil 0-3 France (1998)
Where: Saint-Denis, France
I have been there for many really strange moments, including the Luis Figo “pig head” Clasico in 2002, but 1998 World Cup Final, when we handed over the Brazilian team sheet with Edmundo start, only to replace it 40 minutes later with Ronaldo in the line-up, it took a few punches. The great striker was unwell on the final morning and did not travel to the Stade de France with his team-mates, but arrived later and declared himself fit, only to make a slight impact in the 3-0 defeat. “Imagine if I stopped him from playing and Brazil lost. At that time I had to go and stay at the North Pole,” Brazil coach Mario Zagallo told the congressional hearing.
Mark Ogden’s choice: Croatia, England meet in private
Competition: Croatia 0-0 England (2018)
Where: Rijeka, Croatia
Being in Rijeka to watch Croatia plays England in an empty stadium – part of the stadium the home team penalty because playing a game with swastikas drawn on the field – is a strange experience and that emphasizes why supporters are so important. Hearing the players screaming at each other, and the sound of the ball being kicked, is just weird. It was a sign that the league’s unprecedented moments were closed because of the coronavirus, which has reminded us that football undoubtedly needs fans in the stands.
Tor-Kristian Karlsen’s choice: Mancini lost his temper
Competition: Sampdoria 0-0 Inter (1995)
Where: Genoa, Italy
Always a shirtless player, Roberto Mancini’s difficult times towards the end of his legendary Sampdoria career culminated in this match when he was ordered to dive instead of being awarded a penalty. Running to the bench, he tore the armband and demanded to be replaced. When coach Sven-Goran Eriksson refused, Mancini threw harassment at the referee until he was expelled!
Tom Williams choice: Rain stopped playing in Donetsk
Competition: Ukraine 0-2 France (2012)
The place: Donetsk, Ukraine
After five minutes of Euro 2012 group matches between co-hosts Ukraine and France, a A violent rainstorm hit the stadium into the dark and forced the players to leave. The Donbass Arena roof didn’t cover the press box enough, so that all the journalists present were completely soaked. I was still mopping my table with a paper towel when playing continued an hour later!