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Brazil vs. Japan

A rather more civilized, if also much more subdued first half compared to Crotia vs. Australia. Brazil still aren't playing quite to form. Actually, they're playing quite lazily. With the slower Brazillian game, Japan's apparent style-similarity with Brazil becomes a bit more obvious. Japan is no Brazil, but basic bits and pieces, certainly not in the way they can't finish what they've started, but in the way they pass, the way they have stolen the ball before and now, little things. I wonder if this is the Zico touch? Brazil and Japan both have great goalkeepers in Dida and Kawaguchi, somewhat out of necessity. Brazil's defence is a good offense, and they've depended a lot on the goalkeeper and the one or two players willing to run end-to-end across the field for a tackle (in the case of Ze Roberto and Lucio, great running and tackling, but still). Japan needs Kawaguchi to save them from their own holes.

The highlight of the first half has got to be Japan's goal vs. Ronaldo's header. Both stylish, both neat, both pretty much the only things worth watching, apart from Kawaguchi's accuracy.

Speaking of globalization, Japan has one Brazillian player and a Brazillian coach. Alex is an enthusiastic anthem singer. It was quite cool to see how into it he was. Am I biased, hell I am.

"You'd never think he was Brazillian." - SBS commentator jock, about Zico, the Japanese coach. Compared to the team of immigrants, I suppose that made a lot of sense to say.

Second half, and Brazil are still playing lazy. One gets the idea they're toying with Japan for the good part of it, though they did snap awake the moment there was blood in the water. Juninho shot a fine goal right into the middle of the net, followed by a hard angle by Gilberto and Ronaldo doing a perfect Ronaldo. 4 to 1 against Japan.

Brazil were not playing with a full deck, with normally substitute players taking over roles. They probably did think it better to save their strength. I thought it was a real pity about Cafu, and strange without Adriano or Roberto Carlos. The second half even went without Dida. Then again, if they were making a statement about how Brazil is a team of strong individuals all around, they did great. Most of Brazil's goals and key passes in the first round have come from unusual players, a strategy designed to counteract the sheer walls opposing teams build around the usual scorers. With Ronaldo being walking wounded, Robinho has proven to be a real gem and a half. He's not quite got the aim yet, but he does have the reach and skill to do a lot. Kaka already has a goal to his name and reminds of Roberto Carlos -- he'll try to shoot from anywhere and he will attack anything.

So did anyone else seem to hear Ronaldinho's name being sung to one of the World Cup themes by Brazillian fans? I could swear that was what they were singing, but I haven't slept in 24 hours, so I'm lucky my brain isn't all theme from Eek! the Cat out here...


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