Friday, June 13, 2014

World Cup 2014 : Brazil vs Croatia : 3-1

The opening match between Brazil & Croatia may not have been a total spectacle, but it did leave us all with glimpses of what this Brazilian team could present...... the free flowing Samba....the Selecao brand of football that is worshiped across nations.
In a tough contest Brazil emerged victorious by 3-1, a decent margin by any standards. The Croats fought well & led the game initially, thanks to a own goal by Marcelo, tapping in wrongly, in an attempt to clear the ball.......sending the huge crowd into a stunned silence. The ghosts of the last World Cup reappearing & the game getting ugly & cluttered.... the Croatians looked well in control, as Neymar picked up his yellow card. But then it was the wonder kid Neymar, who picked up a deft pass from Oscar & calmly drilled a left footer past the diving Pletikosa, the Croat goalee to bring about the eqaliser.....& the stadium erupted......the game was back in flow..... however, Brazil had to wait till the 70th minute, when Fred was brought down in the box & Neymar stepped in to convert the penalty. The Japanese ref must have been carrying memories of the last World Cup Qf match when Brazil lost to Netherlands, & he was the referee, pulling up a red card & controversially gave a couple of decisions in favour of the Orange team......maybe he made amends in this match !!!!
Oscar then, sandwiched between three defenders, toed in the dying moments of the game past the hapless goalkeeper to make it a safe 3-1. He, I believe, was the star of the match, with his bursts down the middle & measured passes to the strikers. He was tireless & beutiful, reminding of Bebeto from the '94 World amost the same frame & baby face, though taller, Oscar does give glimpses of the beautiful Samba football...... that is free flowing, awe inspiring & a treat to watch. Neymar, too looked in good touch, though Fred & Hulk were indifferent today.....Bernard, the substitute, again was brilliant in his bursts down the line, giving impressions of the bench strength & what this Brazilian squad is capable of.
The midfield of Paulhino & Gustavo need to improve & am sure they will as the tournament progresses.... the defence also needs to tighten, especially Dani Alves, who overlaps very well, but lacks the speed to return in defence.....Marcelo's own goal had the whole of Brazil gasp in shock, & he too played below his par.....David Luis & Thiago Silva looked solid in central defence....Julio Cesar made some good saves, but was not so confident in air & needs to tighten under the bar, as teams in the knock out would come down heavily at him. Scolari would have plans to counter that.
In all a good tough opening game for Brazil......they will surely step up ahead.....
For the Croats, it was a good game too, though they lost, & I see them strongly vying for the 2nd slot fighting it out with Mexico. They were adventurous, committed & played with speed in counter attack, to rattle the Brazilian defence. Once Mandzukic returns, Jelavic, Rakitic, Olic & of course Luca Modric should combine for much better results.