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Shattered and battered, but how will Brazil react the morning after?

Ex-pat Scot and HeraldScotland blogger GARY JOHNSTON reports from the fanzone in Belo Horizonte

Imagine a nation in despair. A land where the inhabitants' hopes desires and intrinsic aspirations lay in wasted tatters.

Germany at the conclusion of World War II. The USA in the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash. Scotland the morning after the horrific Commonwealth Games outfits were revealed (yep, it even made the news here).

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Multiply all of the above by about a million and you're still nowhere near how Brazil feels this morning. This is a country in deep and pervasive mourning.

Football here is a religion. I don't mean they love the game, in Brazil, it actually is a religion. There are churches - actual churches - which worship Pele, Garrincha and other geniuses of times past.

To say they take the game seriously here just doesn't cut it. The great Bill Shankly comment - that football isn't a matter of life and death, but much more important than that - isn't a pithy example of hyperbole in Brazil. It's a fact.

In the days leading up to the game last night there was a definite undercurrent of nerves. Without the boy wonder Neymar, Brazilians were rightly anxious, but as the anthem played and we watched in a FIFA designated fanzone in Belo Horizonte, the locals once again started to believe.

The anthem - how good is it? Especially the freestyling second verse which it seemed everybody in the entire country was belting out with unrestrained gusto, hand on heart, tears and snotters blinding them. Even us, a disparate collection of fans from other countries who'd long been sent home, joined in. A magic moment none of us will ever forget.

Until the game was 20 minutes old. And Brazil fell apart. Shocked and stunned. Whole-scale incomprehension. Was this really happening?

It was. As the German goals rained in, like they do in a wee boy's game on a Saturday morning, the mood changed. No anger, not yet. Sorrow. Grief.

Grown men, women, and most heart-rendingly of all, children, were openly weeping, their dreams shattered and battered, their hopes scattered all around.

Interestingly, no one thought to lay any blame at the Germans' door. There were more than a few German fans around and they were naturally exultant but unlike what may have occurred in say, Scotland, every Brazilian fan paid them the respect and credit they deserved. Quite honestly, the Germans couldn't believe it either.

But in the second half, as the horrible realisation began to sink in, the mood of the home fans changed from distress to culpability.

Every disaster needs a scapegoat and, in pencil moustachioed alleged striker Fred, the Brazilians had the perfect culprit. Poor old Fred couldn't do a thing right and didn't the fans let him know.

Peter Sellers once called a stately mansion he bought himself 'St Fred's' on the basis that no one could ever take anything called Fred seriously. And, it has to be said, whoever named Brazil's Fred, a footballer as incisive as a Christmas pudding, wasn't exactly doing him any favours.

However, as duff as Fred was - is - you can hardly blame him for the train wreck that was Brazil's defence, as the Germans ran riot, threatening to score at every opportunity. Scoring at every opportunity.

Fred's every mis-touch was roundly booed and eventually he was substituted to save him from further punishment, as they say in boxing matches.

A TV close-up caught the poor bloke sitting in the dug-out, a perfect picture of abject misery and desolation. He looked like a fellow I used to see in the Ladbrokes at Partick Cross, whose characteristic bad luck was summed up by his backing a horse at Cheltenham races called Lady of the Lake - who subsequently came a cropper at the water jump. A Loser with a capital 'L'.

When the game mercifully ended, the scene was reminiscent of a double shift at the Wailing Wall. Utter, utter misery and anguish. It wasn't pretty.

No riots. No whole-scale looting and rebellion. Not yet at any rate. The Brazilians are not angry, they're sad, depressed.

But anger, as any homespun psychiatrist will tell you, is a secondary emotion, a response stimulated, stirred up by an initial sentiment - a reaction borne out of frustration.

The whole world, especially vulnerable tourists like us, will have to hope such passionate disaffection and insurgence doesn't eventuate. But you wouldn't want to put money on it.

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