‘Time to pick up the pieces’, ‘Goodbye, sixth championship’ – here’s how Brazil’s papers reacted to their shock World Cup elimination by Croatia on Friday night.
After a goalless draw in Qatar, the five-time world champions were beaten on penalties by Croatia, who earned a spot-kick victory for the second game in a row to set up a semi-final with Argentina next week.
Up until that point, Brazil had been favourites to win the tournament outright but on the same night Neymar matched Pele’s all-time record of 77 goals for the country, their dream was shattered when Marquinhos’ win-or-bust penalty smacked against the woodwork and away to safety.
O Globo, one of Brazil’s most-read newspapers, took aim at departing coach Tite with a list of six points they felt he had got wrong and contributed to their exit.
Among their complaints were his substitutions in extra-time, bringing on Fred for Lucas Paqueta and Alex Sandro for Eder Militao, as a contributing factor in Croatia’s equalising goal, as well as the fact Neymar – potentially down as fifth penalty taker – never took a spot-kick in the shootout.
“Rodrygo and Marquinhos missed their kicks, Croatia converted all the penalties they took – including their number 10, Luka Modric – and Brazil were eliminated without the player considered their best taker being used,” they wrote.
Another newspaper, Extra, ran with a full-page picture of Brazil’s heartbroken players after their shootout defeat, with the caption “Time to pick up the pieces”. They criticised Neymar’s on-field contribution throughout the game – and said his tournament had been “below expectations”.
“Neymar wasted some chances in the match, especially from Richarlison’s passes,” they said. “He didn’t find his teammates in a favourable situation at any time, he wasn’t a creator like Modric, 37 years old. In fact, far from it. He lived, as he has lived in the current phase of his career, in flashes.”
O Dia ran with the front page “The ball is over!” while fellow paper Estado De Minas carried a Croatian message, translated into Portuguese below reading “Farewell, sixth championship” accompanied by another photograph of dejected Brazil players following their defeat.
‘He became a hero’ – Argentina’s papers after Netherlands win
South America will still have one representative in the final four of the World Cup thanks to Argentina’s penalty shootout win over the Netherlands on Friday night to set up a semi-final meeting with Croatia next week.
The Lionel Messi-captained team threw away a two-goal lead before finally emerging victorious on penalties in what was an ill-tempered match, and set a new record for the number of yellow cards ever shown in a World Cup game.
The Argentina players celebrated towards their Netherlands counterparts briefly after their qualification had been secured but the national newspapers chose to focus their front pages more on the success.
“He became a hero” was on the front of the broadsheet Pagina 12, referring to goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez’s effort to keep out spot-kicks from Virgil van Dijk and Steven Berghuis.
The article continued: “Overcoming the unexpected draw, the wasted chances in extra-time, the adversity caused by the injustice of not seeing Argentina’s superiority reflected in the result, they went to penalties with the huge hands of Emi Martínez.
“He put this new team 2-0 up. With passion and heart, the team overcame [Netherlands]. That sacred fire that is always needed to accomplish great feats.”
Tabloid newspaper Clarin led on the headline: “To pure heart and dreams”. They focused on the performance throughout the tournament of Lionel Messi, looking to lift the World Cup in what may be his final opportunity to win it.
“It’s already Messi’s World Cup,” they wrote. “The best World Cup from him. Beyond the records and brands, the unnecessary suffering, the giant Emi Martinez. Regardless of how the story ends.
“His football leadership no longer offers any discussion and the team is among the top four guided by his magic. Although the ending was crazy hard to explain.”
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