Tuesday, June 15, 2010

World Cup 2010 Game 14: Brazil 2, North Korea 1

Okay, everyone who had this score in your pool raise your ha...put your hands down, liars.

This one was supposed to be a rout, and really, once Brazil scored the outcome wasn't much in doubt. That it took Brazil 55 minutes or so to score was the first upset--though, wow, what a terrific angle shot. Maybe not one of the more spectacularly pretty goals you'll see at this World Cup but definitely a technically difficult shot--when South Korea scored near stoppage time that was the second upset.

The first round has been a bit slow without too many goals and only one side, Germany, looking impressive. Part of that was assumed to be because the schedule was backloaded with the #1 and #2 teams in the world not playing until almost a week in.

Brazil is a little bit like USA basketball...winning isn't enough. If they don't dominate than people are shocked. Nevertheless, this was a very yeomanlike effort, and it does take skill to exercise the patience necessary to break down a disciplined defense. Brazil strides quickly, covering so much ground that they are never far away from getting into danger territory, and they are pretty much the only team that you don't feel is in trouble when they are down a goal.

They are known for skill and precision passing, but I noticed in this game that Kaka (one of the star players) is also bigger than I realized, both in terms of length and upper body strength.

Much has been made of the North Korean side: they played home games in China because they wouldn't allow South Korean anthem to be played before the match; their "fans" are actually paid actors from China (hey anyone want to pay me to pretend to be a fan for free tix?), etc. Mmmm. Okay. Supposedly the goal scored was the only highlight allowed on North Korean television. Reminds me of the old Cold War joke: An American and a Soviet had a race and the American won. The next day Pravda reported "In an international competition, the Soviet Union finished second. The American was next to last."

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