I had a meeting at 3:00, like a regular working stiff. I made jokes about watching the World Cup in the meeting room, but ultimately we decided we had better do work stuff.
After a half-hour, he could stand the buzzing of his phone no longer. He checked. His eyes widened.
"It's 5-0," he said.
"No it's not," I said.
"People keep texting me."
"It is not 5-0. It just isn't."
This was not supposed to happen. Not to Brazil. Not in Brazil.
Brazil is, in the estimation of most, the greatest soccer country on earth. Even when they are not good, when their defending is suspect and they don't seem interested in playing as a team, they are still Brazil, and at any moment they may produce some bamboozling piece of soccer that will put their opponents to the sword. This is how they have won five World Cups and the last three Confederations Cups and four of the last six Copas America: they are Brazil. They always win.
And even if you don't believe that, they are Brazil, at home, and at home Brazil always wins. They had a winning streak in competitive home matches that dates back to 1975. They don't lose at home, Brazil. They just don't.
This, though, is what Germany does: they ruin things.
Germany is always the team that nobody likes at the World Cup. Not because they aren't good - they always are, having not finished outside the top eight since 1938 - and not even because they don't play good soccer, as you can see from this edition, which produced some glorious attacking against Brazil. It's just that they wear black, and always are good. If you were being nice, you'd say they are the Yankees. If you were not being nice, you would call them Darth Vader, and in fact you cannot write that without thinking of stormtroopers and all of the German military connotations of that word, which probably also go a long way towards explaining why Germany is always the team that nobody likes.
And so on one side you have Brazil, all samba and Neymar and dancing and futbol! and fun. And then there is Germany. You can imagine Thomas Muller as the bad guy in a kids' movie; he would be the one who stabs the Brazilians' soccer ball with a knife in the first act, and then laughs a German laugh, oh ho ho ho ho!, complete with mirthless, haunting eyes.
Which is, sort of, what he did on the field. His goal from a corner gave Germany the lead, and it was followed by four more in six minutes - the ageless Miroslav Klose, Toni Kroos, Kroos again, Sami Khedira, and suddenly all of us who had 3:00 meetings were having the same conversation and rushing back to our desks to find the highlights: What happened? Where is Brazil's defense? Geez, where are Brazil's players?
There will not be the epic Brazil-Argentina final that we all identified as a possibility on the day that the draw came out. Brazil will not exorcise the ghosts of 1950, when they lost the World Cup on home soil to Uruguay, except that those ghosts are now replaced with the modern figures of Muller and Klose and Kroos. And the protest-torn country will not come together for one triumphant sporting moment; we'll be left with the hundreds of tearful Brazilians in the stands, sobbing for the end of something they, and we, took for granted: Brazil, at home.
This is what Germany does: they ruin things.