Should old acquaintance be forgot? It was never going to be, but I hardly expected to be thinking of my friends from Copacabana so soon after landing back in England, and I certainly didn’t expect to be feeling so sorry for them.
The return home came just hours before the first semifinal and, like hundreds of millions of others across the planet, I watched incredulous as the team of the host nation, the greatest of all soccer nations, concede goals to Germany with a rapidity that would have been surprising in the NBA; let alone a sporting arena that had yielded just 1.25 goals per entire game in the previous round, as things became about as tight and tense as international soccer can get.
After the magnificent Germans had eased off and started saving their energy for Sunday’s final, they stopped at seven, to which Brazil replied with a gesture that produced one in the closing seconds. I was watching in a riverside pub on the south-western fringes of London, slack-jawed like everyone around me, trying to think of precedents but being able to think only of the folks with whom I’d seen all the previous Brazil games.