Brazil has shot at Kurt Browning moment

Brazil's David Luiz cries after losing to Germany in the World Cup semifinals at Mineirao Stadium...

Brazil's David Luiz cries after losing to Germany in the World Cup semifinals at Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, July 8, 2014. (EDDIE KEOGH/Reuters)

Kurtis Larson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:07 PM ET

RIO DE JANEIRO - Amidst the vulgarity that spewed from the mouths of yellow-clad fans in Belo Horizonte Tuesday night, there were faint chants of unwavering support.

At a certain point, Germany's 7-1 thrashing of the World Cup hosts was no longer embarrassing.

It cut deeper. A once-in-a-lifetime semifinal drubbing dropped Brazil's players to their knees at full-time, dooming them to Saturday's third-place fixture against the Netherlands in Brasilia.

There were fans who piled it on, booing their national team off the pitch and out of the venue.

Back then, the thrashing was still fresh.

Listening to the 3,000 Germans in attendance sing in unison didn't help matters, either. That alone was salt in a wound of planetary proportions at the end of an unthinkable 90 minutes.

Under normal circumstances, nobody would care about Saturday's third-place game.

Nobody remembers who finished third at the 1990 tournament.

But for the Brazilian national team Saturday's game is a chance to set things right; to make their country's final memory of a lost tournament one they can stomach.

It's a test of character as well.

It's easy to get up for the big games. It's easy to play with passion when a top prize is on the line.

The true test of character for an athlete is performing at the top level when all seems lost; when there's little by way of material motivation.

We hear it repeated in Canada: "You play for the crest on the front of the shirt, not the name or number on the back of it."

That's the challenge for Brazil's national team Saturday night: to make sure the beat down in Belo Horizonte remains a "one-off" in football folklore.

"My career will be marked by (the Germany) defeat, but we have an obligation to move on, thinking about the next goal, which in this case is the match for third place in Brasilia," Brazilian bench boss Luiz Felipe Scolari said at a media conference.

"It's a smaller dream than we all wanted but we have to honour the shirt of the national team.

"The tournament was not all bad."

This could be Brazil's Kurt Browning moment.

The Canadian figure skater -- expected to bring home gold -- epically fell apart at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. His short program was a disaster, leaving him in 10th heading into the long skate.

But the Canadian didn't allow one bad result to overshadow his accomplishments.

He apologized to Canadians before skating a near-perfect long program, despite knowing he'd lost his chance to capture figure skating's top prize. He was immortalized for it.

"History will have to record that Brazil, for the first time since 2002, reached the semifinals (of a World Cup)," Scolari added, according to the UK's Independent.

Across this country, fans will continue to rant against the fact their team isn't present here in Rio. There will likely be some booing up the road at Brasilia's Estadio Nacional on Saturday, too.

But in my experience, Brazil is a nation that in showing it's soccer passion will demonstrate compassion for a group of players that wanted desperately to lift the World Cup trophy on home soil.

Their commitment was never in doubt.

It's a team that sheds tears whenever their national anthem is belted out.

Because of that, the Brazilians have all to play for come Saturday against a Dutch side that's on record saying they'd rather not be here.

That alone should make Brazilians proud to know that even in the face of disappointment, defeat and disillusion, they're team is going to attempt to put on a show -- if only for the shirt.

Come Saturday, A Selecao will walk out in front of the same fans that turned against them in Belo Horizonte.

"(We had to) keep on fighting to the end, knowing that it was a virtually impossible task," Brazilian centre back David Luiz recalled, according to FIFA.

While it's impossible to erase the past -- the worst defeat in World Cup semifinal history -- Saturday might be an even more difficult task.

But if the hosts pull a Kurt Browning in Brasilia, expect those same fans who spewed vulgarity a few days back to get back on board.

As Canadians know, a national soccer team, no matter the results, will always deserve their country's support.

BRAZIL, NETHERLANDS THROUGH THE YEARS

Recent meetings at World Cup tournaments

2010 QUARTERFINALS

- Netherlands 2, Brazil 1 -- The Brazilians went up early through Robinho only to fall apart in the second half when a mistake from goalkeeper Julio Cesar saw the Dutch level. Wesley Sneijder scored the winner off a header in the 68th minute to eliminate Brazil.

1998 SEMIFINALS

-Netherlands 1, Brazil 1 (Brazil 4-2 on PK) -- Brazil's Ronaldo opened the scoring minutes into the second half before Dutchman Patrick Kluivert leveled with minutes remaining. Brazilian goalkeeper Cláudio Taffarel stoned a pair of Dutch penalties to advance.

1994 QUARTERFINALS

-Netherlands 2, Brazil 3 -- A game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas saw the teams combine for five goals in the second half, capped Babeto's late brace to send Brazil into the semis before eventually lifting the trophy.

1974 SECOND GROUP PHASE

-Netherlands 2, Brazil 0 -- Dutch legend Johan Cruyff put the game out of reach midway through the second half in a result that sent the Netherlands to the final, where they lost to West Germany.


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