LITTLE BOY BLUE'S CONFEDERATIONS CUP DIARY - Pure Brazilian Blend
By Little Boy Blue
Updated Sunday, 16th June 2013
A different class!
How else can you describe this sort of performance from the boys from Brazil? The 3-0 scoreline does not even begin to mirror the difference between the sides and, while Japan can hardly be regarded as world class opposition, Luiz Felipe Scolari's side, whilst playing well within their capabilities, did enough to feed my present bout of Brazilitis. Here's hoping its incurable!!!
I can hear a few sceptics saying that, if this Brazil team was the real deal, they would have rattled in six or seven goals. Looking at the big picture, however, this should be a five game competition for Brazil so, with victory secure, they took the foot off the gas, subbed Hulk and Neymar and settled for knocking the ball around confidently, biding their time instead of bursting a gut to create opportunities.
All true football fans should look forward to Brazil games with a sense of great anticipation. My enthusiasm dates back to the 1962 World Cup when Garrincha was the star of the show, by the time 1966 came around I was a regular reader of 'World Soccer', fascinated by all things Brazilian, although they were far from impressive when they came to Hampden during their pre-World Cup build-up so their poor performances in England were no great surprise. Fast forward to 1970 and I was again drooling over the magic of Pele, Jairzinho, Tostao and Rivellino but, sadly, they have never quite scaled those heights since then.
But like all true optimisits, I live in hope. Each new generation of Brazilians has me whetting my lips in anticipation of something special and the names continually hint that they are about to deliver. Socrates, Falcao, Zico, Careca, Muller, Bebeto, Romario, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Robinho. Spot the bad player, eh?
Maybe it is just the passage of time distorting my memory but I don't think any Brazilian side has come remotely close to matching the mind-blowing stuff of the 1970 masters. But if it is ever to happen, now is surely the time for the new generation to turn on the style. Home advantage in the Confederations Cup and again in next year's World Cup gives them the benefit of every doubt. I genuinely believe we could see something very special over the next year or so, on a parallel with the wonderful football served up of late by Barcelona and Spain. Only time will tell.
Even before the Confederations Cup had kicked off, I was greatly encouraged by the crowd at the Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia leaving Sepp Blatter in no doubt about what they think of his patronising words. I was still chuckling about the fans drowning him out when Fred took a cross from Marcelo on his chest, allowed the ball to fall to Neymar and BANG! Barcelona's latest big money buy rattled a phenomenal right foot volley into the roof of the net from the edge of the box.
The perfect start heightened my expectations so I did a bit of sighing and some guzzling of lager as Brazil knocked the ball about without doing too much more damage. They were creating a lot of space down the right side and on a few occasions Hulk got in behind defenders but, instead of looking up to pick out a team-mate, he opted to smash the ball across goal to no effect. The big fella also had a long range effort charged down and fired another opportunity into the side netting as the first half drew to a close with just Neymar's strike separating the sides.
But any hope the Japs had of saving this game died just two miniutes into the second half. A Dani Alves cross from the right was controlled on the turn by Paulinho and his low shot from 14 yards was too hot for keeper Kawashima who got a touch to the ball but could only divert it high into the net. Cue showboating!
Neymar, Hulk and Fred clocked out early, Japan began to see a bit more of the ball but they didn't seriously threaten Julio Cesar's goal. In fairness to the Japs, at no time did they seek to kick their opponents off the park, trying in vain to match them for skill, only to find themselves chasing shadows time after time. Right at the death Oscar set off on a run then slipped an inch-perfect pass through to substitute Jo and the former Man City man confidently slotted home goal number three. Easy peasy!
Having enjoyed my first course of Confederations Cup fitba, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's double helping. Brazil have sent out their message loud and clear so it will be very interesting to get back from a wee matinee session at the pub to check out how Italy and Mexico respond. Neither can be too confident of facing the hosts so, expecting to beat Japan, each will know their future in the competition could be determined when they meet at the Maracana.
Although Mexico have a sound Confederations Cup pedigree, I'm inclined to favour the Italians. My main worry for them is that infuriating tendency they have to settle for a draw, confident they will be more likely to keep things tight against Brazil, budgeting to qualify for the semi-finals, at worst, on goal difference. I trust coach Cesare Prandelli will point out how this policy has cost Italy dear in the past, not least of all at the last World Cup when complacency saw them draw with Paraguay and New Zealand and lose to Slovakia, actually finishing at the bottom of their group. They have better players than the Mexicans so I sincerely hope they show all their best qualities and treat us to a game worth seeing.
And the same applies to Spain and Uruguay who meet in Recife a few hours later. The Spanish have ruled world football for the past few years but the humiliating defeats of both Barcelona and Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Champions League will have alarm bells ringing and it will be very interesting to monitor the response of players like Sergio Ramos, Arbeloa, Xavi, Iniesta and Villa who are simply not accustomed to being beaten so soundly. I hope they are hurting and approach the Confederations Cup on a mission.
Will Uruguay be able to cope with a Spanish side firing on all cylinders? I doubt it, although there have been suggestions that this present squad is ready to push Argentina aside and emerge as the main threat to Brazilian domination of South American football. If they can handle the Spaniards, that reputation will grow and would give the Uruguayans a massive boost in the countdown to next year's World Cup.
And of course with the chase for Napoli's Edinson Cavani still very much alive, his performance will be closely monitored, possibly adding a few million to his transfer value, or shrinking it, depending on how he plays.
So having probably spent too much time and money in the boozer in the afternoon, it will be a Sunday night in the hoose for me, the fridge stacked with a right few cans, with my stockpile diminishing steadily as I get myself into the mood for the fitba. Bring it on!!!
LITTLE BOY BLUE
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