If you find yourself unable to cry ever again, it's because the world's entire tear reserve was expelled over Brazil's shootout win over Chile in the World Cup round of 16. After a draining 90 minutes ended with a single goal for each side, the match went to extra time, where Brazil were saved by the crossbar when Chile's Mauricio Pinilla threatened to boot the host nation from its own party near the end of the second added period. That forced an already bowel trembling match to inhuman depths of fear and possibility. It was time for a penalty shootout.
Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar was crying before the shootout even began for several reasons: 1) he is always crying, 2) if Brazil lost this shootout, civilization as we know it would cease to exist, and 3) he was blamed for Brazil's loss to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup. For him more than anyone else, failure in this moment would mean unthinkable despair.
[Photos: Brazil vs. Chile]
David Luiz stepped up and, as if pressure and emotions were things that have never existed, drilled in Brazil's first attempt. Then Cesar saved a poor shot down the middle from Pinilla to give Brazil the advantage quickly lost when Willian put his shot wide. Undeterred, Cesar again made the save on Alexis Sanchez's shot and Marcelo restored Brazil's lead by making his. Charles Aranguiz finally got one past Cesar for Chile, but Hulk ran up to the ball like he was sneaking up on a mouse and Chile keeper Claudio Bravo saved his attempt. Marcelo Diaz put Chile level again and Neymar again came up big for Brazil by making his shot. That put everything on Chile Gonzalo Jara, who hit the inside of the post with his shot, sending the ball across the face of goal and over the endline.
This is how close Chile came staying alive in the tournament. This is how close Brazil came to further tempting a disastrous fate. This is how close Julio Cesar came to launching himself into the sun.
After taking a split second to compute what just happened, Brazil cried tears of joy while Chile cried tears of exhausted sadness. Chile's Gary Medel, who played through immense pain for 108 minutes with his thigh taped up like a science fair project, was inconsolable, while Neymar let out the emotions he buried deep in order to avoid falling into a pile of dust just before his spot kick.
But for Julio Cesar, the emotions were far more layered and each slice provided ample reason to bawl.
“I thank my teammates," he said in his interview immediately after the match (translation via Football Italia). "I am emotional, moved, but also happy. Only God and my family can understand what I’ve been through and am still going through today. They gave me so much strength.
[Related video: Brazil goes wild after shootout win]
“I was crying in desperation four years ago, but now I cry tears of joy.”
This was a degree of redemption for Julio Cesar, but it was also an unconvincing team with the expectations of a whole country narrowly escaping one disaster for the chance at another.
Anyone watching this match should be forgiven if they thought it was the grand final of the last World Cup ever to be held. This was far more than just another round of 16 match.
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