We’ll be providing our rating from a 1-10 rate so you know which matches to watch if you DVR’d them and only have time to watch one. Here I’ll provide what we made of the game. If you haven’t seen it I would suggest you do before reading on. Overall I would give it an entertainment value of 8/10. Bonus points if you like to see poor defense and controversy.
I couldn’t think straight when I woke up this morning. I was so excited for the World Cup to begin today I couldn’t wait to plop myself on that couch and watch the game. I forgot how to tell time.. I’m not exaggerating. I knew the WC started at 1pm Pacific time.. I looked at the clock and saw it was 10:30am and I thought “hell yeah only a half hour until the World Cup!!” need I explain my confusion when I was damp of hair and puzzling why the U.S. Open was on ESPN?
Before kickoff we saw and heard a sight that brought chills down the spines of anyone watching. The Brazilian national anthem was sung. No words beyond what the video shows.
So Brazil – the golden team where only victory would do saw Croatia kick off the match and for the first ten minutes you wouldn’t know Brazil was actually playing. There were nervous moments on both sides of the pitch but only one team really came to play. It wasn’t Brazil. Croatia started off brightly and was content with letting Brazil hold the ball with the back four and the occasional center midfielder coming back to play a one two in the defensive third. Croatia played as if Brazil got the ball with space in the midfield it would be game over and the Samba
Kings Kids would do what they do best. So they locked down their markers and let their organization and their hard-working wingers do most of the work. It didn’t take long to pay off either with Olic working his way down the wing and whipping in a cross which was put in by an unlucky (and slightly asleep) Marcelo.
The shock was on.
Brazil responded appropriately, however with some more decisive attacks down the right flank with Marcelo providing a bit of a push and Oscar kind of doing the rest. There were crosses coming in and space opening in the center. Brazil was becoming more adventurous as they rightfully should be. Croatia was still able to close off space int he center of the field but some suspect defending allowed Oscar to put in some hard work holding the ball and getting it to Neymar before he put it just out of Pletikosa’s reach. The whole country took a sigh of relief and they kept some light pressure until half time.
Scolari surely wouldn’t be happy with the way the team played scared football in the first half and how they weren’t getting the ball up the field early enough. Some sloppy defending allowed Croatia to score but they were knocking on the door long before the scoreline showed it. Truth be told: Croatia were playing with more desire and intent than Brazil. Kovac could hardly complain with his team showing up to the occasion and piling the pressure on the hosts. Up until an unlucky bounce it was Croatia’s game to lose the way both teams were playing. Brazil needed to come out and pressure more, play more aggressively and the Croats needed to keep playing the game they were on, cut to the inside post after crosses where the space was, and be more imposing particularly in the defensive midfield.
But neither team learned from the first half. Brazil came out lazily again and were content holding the ball in defense. They didn’t seem like they were willing to go forward and the clock was ticking away. Croatia kept attacking through the wings but weren’t able to connect on the near post and they blew some chances. The only shining player on Brazil was Oscar – that kid was working hard, getting into space behind Croatia, beating his man and playing pass and move football.
It wasn’t until some simulation by Fred that Brazil saw much of an opportunity to get back into the game. Fred flopped in the box and the ref was tricked into giving a penalty to the home team. On the replay it was obviously simulated but the ref was in a charitable mood and thought it best to give the penalty. Up stepped Neymar and he epitomized Brazil’s game: it was nervous, tried to be too flashy even in the simplest way, came from a strange buildup, and barely squeaked past some shaky defending.
The controversy was on (so early?!) and Brazil were playing a bit more like themselves. Croatia didn’t stop attacking on the wings and were unlucky to get a goal called back for a foul on the keeper. On a different day Croatia would get the breaks and come away with three points but that day wasn’t today.
Oscar finally sealed the game away after (a harsh) Ramirez’s challenge saw the ball drop at his feet as the Croatians backed away like schoolboys. No one put a challenge up against Oscar and he was able to put away a toe poke from the top of the key. Boom Brazil were walking away with three hardly deserved points.
Croatia put on a really good challenge and it took fate’s intervention to steal three points away from them. They’ll be looking forward to playing Mexico and Cameroon next and they should be because they looked pretty good today against the hosts. Brazil on the other hand have a lot to work with. The referee did make some truly dicey calls that went in Brazil’s favor but so is the game. At least we now have FIFA’s brand new goal line technology. Some may argue if they can win 3-1 while playing this bad who knows what they can do when they play at their best? Truth is the better team doesn’t win a football match often and no one has a claim to the World Cup as Brazilian fans think they do. Many teams will be licking their chops after watching this game because Brazil didn’t look good. They were nervous and jittery at important times and showed their frailty. If it weren’t for Oscar or Fred’s (awe inspiring) contribution Brazil would be lucky to get out of that stadium with multiple points.
As my good friend Tyler Delorenzo so elegantly phrased it, “If I’m looking at it form a Brazil perspective they have a ways to go if they want to contend for a World Cup. Germany, England, Spain, Netherlands, Uruguay, Portugal, and Argentina would all fuck Brazil if they played like that against them.” I don’t disagree Mr. Delo(renzinhio).
What do you make of the game? I wanna know what your match rating was if you watched it. We’ll be posting reviews of matches we checked out after the game so you know which ones are good. Rate below!