July 8, 2014. A day that will be remembered for generations. World Cup in Brazil, quarter finals, final score: Germany 7x1 Brazil. For the first time in many years Brazil was humiliated in one sport we were supposed to be the best at: soccer. After that, Brazil's soccer started to decline exponentially; problems with CBF (Brazilian Football Confederation); criticism all over the world; and the worst of all, Brazilians’ lack of faith in the new generation. For many fans, this day represented the end of Brazil's soccer team. Since the 7x1, Brazil's soccer was never the same.
July 2016. Brazil soccer wasn't the same and this could be seen in the first matches that Brazil played in the Olympics: two games, two ties, no goals. Brazilian channels started to criticize the team. They said that the players were too afraid to play; they called them cowards and mercenaries. Many fans gave up and started cheering exclusively for the women's soccer, claiming that they were too ashamed to watch the men's Olympic team. The players? Quiet. Nothing was said. It seemed that Brazil's team was suffering from a curse or worse: lack of trust. Brazil managed to win the following games and move to the Finals. The last opponent? Germany.
August 20, 2016, Maracanã Stadium, 774 days after the humiliating game against Germany, 18 players representing 200 million Brazilians, plus some foreigners fans (Usain Bolt for example). It was time for payback.
Just 5 minutes into the game and Germany already had a clear chance of scoring, but fortunately they hit the crossbar. It seemed that another 7x1 was coming… Suddenly, Brazil’s team started to do something that no one believed it could: The team started to play soccer. Brazil's team was dominating Germany... It was unbelievable! It was just a matter of time before the first goal. Within 27 minutes, Neymar scored an astonishing goal in a free kick. 1x0. End of the first half.
The game continued and Germany exhibited why they are the team with more goals in the Olympics, scoring at the 58th minute.A goal that made many fans relive the memories from the World Cup. 1x1. End of the second half.
The game went to extra time, 30 more minutes that could define the champion, otherwise penalty kicks. Brazil once again showed dominance and started to create great opportunities, however, Germany proved that they have 3a great defense and held Brazil's attempts for more 30 minutes. End of the extra time. Penalty kicks.
Penalty Kicks. The whole world watching a game that would define Brazil's soccer. Would it be another game for Germany in Brazil? Another moment of shame? Or a historical victory? A victory that would not only give us an exclusive title but also our revenge?
Germany started taking the first kick and scored a flawless goal, Brazil also scored with Renato Augusto. It was unbelievable ! Even been composed of young players, both teams displayed high quality penalty kicks, a spectacle for soccer fans. Germany shot its 5th penalty. Nils Petersen vs Weverton. Weverton saved it. Screams, people crying, and a lot of emotion..It was Brazil's chance. One goal and Brazil would win the gold medal. One goal and Brazil would end the "Olympic Curse". One goal and Brazil would get its revenge against Germany. One goal and Brazil would be able to feel proud again… All that pressure under the shoulders of Brazil's captain, Brazil's most important player: Neymar.
It looked like every moment of that game was written, all led to that final moment: Neymar, the boy that was criticized the most by the media. He stayed there looking at the ball for a moment,breathing slowly. While 70 thousand people stared at him, expecting him to decides Brazil's destiny. And he did.
Neymar Junior, 24 years old, the most criticized player in the team, scored and gave Brazil a title never won before. Not only Neymar, but the entire team suffered with the media, with the fans, with their own pressures and they won. This game wasn't only about vengeance and exclusive titles. This game showed that sometimes we need to face our phobias and our past to win, and that was the lesson that Brazil team gave us: never give up.
Some may ask "Did it erase the past?" I say no, but it helped. Brazil moved one step forward to become the great team that once was. Now, we wait. We wait to see the changes and how Brazil will overcome its future obstacles. I believe in Brazil.