Brazil ‘is finish’ and out of World Cup

2010-07-02 17:04

Brazil (1) 1

Netherlands (0) 2

It was a match that proved once more why football is often called

the opiate of the masses. The 40 186 spectators who descended on this venue, had

their fair share of what the beautiful game can provide.

Midway through the match, the South American football aristocrats

seemed to be on cruise-control as they not only were a goal to the good but ran

rings around their European opponents.

At this point, the question was whether coach Dunga was on his way to join the elite

club of individuals who have captained and coached their countries to World Cup

glory (Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer and Mario Zagallo of Brazil belong to that club).

However, a combination of incidents that started in the 52nd minute

with a cynical foul on Dutch playmaker Arjen Robben, then an own goal by Felipe

Melo, followed by a Wesley Sneijder header in the 68th minute, destroyed

Brazil’s hopes of making it to the semifinals on Tuesday and Wednesday.

By this time, the pendulum had swung 180 degrees and the complexion

of the game had changed so much that the Brazil team was now the one tackling in

an unfashionable way and uncharacteristically giving the ball away.

This saw Melo getting his marching orders with 17 minutes of play

remaining. And so their hopes of adding to their five World Cup titles were

blown to smithereens.

Credit should go to Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk and his


Whatever he told them in the change room during the half-time break

worked like a charm as they turned a lacklustre first half performance into a

glittering showing of how the game should be played.

While the right flank on which Robben operated was flat and was

easily boxed in the first stanza, he found a new lease on life in the second and

played with verve and panache, assisted by Sneijder.

Gone was the spring in the Brazilian players’ step as their

shoulders drooped, leading to a Brazilian hack seated next to me in the press

tribune pronouncing “is finish” way before Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura

blew the final whistle after adding a single minute.

The match had threatened to become a tempestuous affair from the

beginning as Robben was brought down and an ugly confrontation between him and

Robinho followed. And this was only in the third minute of the game.

Made in Brazil

Five minutes later, the latter scored what commentators would have

easily dubbed “a goal made in Brazil” only for the offside flag to have –

correctly – gone up.

It only took two more minutes for first blood to be drawn. Robinho

latched onto a pin-point, defence-splitting pass that caught the Dutch back four

square and the little dribbling wizard took the ball, beating goalkeeper Maarten

Stekelenburg hands down – 1-0 to Brazil.

The Netherlands tried to respond immediately but the reliable

Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar was up to the task, getting down low to turn

Liverpool’s Dirk Kuyt’s shot around the post for a corner.

Brazilian left-back Michel Bastos got away scot-free with a rash

tackle on Robben 16 minutes into the game but only received a tongue-lashing

from the referee.

By this time, Robinho was making a real nuisance of himself to the

Dutch defence as he danced around them, while his team mates carved gaping holes

through the Dutch midfield and defence with their delicate passing of the


One of these moves ended with defender Juan scuffing a snapshot

over the crossbar from close range.

In the 31st minute, Stekelenburg denied Kaká what would have been a

peach of a goal when he dived full length to parry the ball for a corner.

Twice was Robben boxed by the Brazilian defence and prevented from

doing what he did for the entire past European season, gliding in from the right

flank and sending in curlers that became a nightmare for goalkeepers.


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