Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Brazil's Blues a Good Thing

Brazil's 2-1 squeaker over North Korea is actually a good thing to have happened to the five-time world champions. With this narrow victory over a mediocre team, Brazil can take stock of its weaknesses and ramp up for the tougher matches coming its way.

It is important to peak at the right time in the World Cup. Peak too early and you almost always lose in the quarterfinals. We did see from Brazil the occasional magic that characterizes jogo bonito, but that was all. There was no finishing to make your blood rush and the music soar. Kaka showed nothing in which to go gaga over his game. In fact, some of his passes were so completely off target that you had to wonder if the real Kaka would show up.

The first goal by Maicon was a lucky one, even if worthy of drawing "Ooooh"s from viewers. A good goalkeeper should have picked that one off. The second goal by Elano from a sublime pass by Robinho was vintage Brazil. But then Brazil slacked off and in the dying minutes, Ji Yun Nam beat Julio Cesar. That was also good for Brazil. It just proved that all this talk of Brazil's defense being one of the world's best is just that: talk. As for Julio being the best goalkeeper in the world? Not yet, not yet.

Brazil got its three points in the frigid night in Johannesburg to sit atop its group. But the message is clear: You have to step up your game if you want to go beyond the next round. Stop passing too much in the penalty box and take more shots at the goal. Artistry for the sake of artistry is foolish unless matched by the ability to get the ball into the net.

All in all, a good lesson for a team that expects to win the first world cup being held in Africa

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