Thursday, July 27, 2017

Brazil Hassled By North Koreans

By Suben Ravindran

The cliché about there is no easy match in football any more is true. Brazil were made to sweat for their (Group G) 2-1 victory against Korea DPR (North Korea) in their World Cup encounter in South Africa despite attacking the majority of the match. After the other Group G encounter between Ivory Coast and Portugal was goalless, fans were waiting for a better serving, a better serving of kimchi and samba. The North Koreans were in the mood for the spirit of 66.

In the first minute of the match Brazil made a nice attack through Robinho, but he tried a combination with Kaka in the box and it did not work. There seemed to be a nice flow in Brazil’s play as the match went on.  North Koreans made a raiding run on Brazil’s right wing in the 5th minute. Brazil played their normal open play allowing North Korea to make some surprising runs. The North Koreans have the same steely resolve as the South Koreans maybe a bit more spirited, but not as technical as their southern neighbors.  Jong Tae-se of the Koreans made some dangerous runs, he plays in Japan and is known as the “Rooney of Korea”.  Koreans made some set of passes before fizzling out near the Brazilian box twice in a minute. Brazil seem to constantly go to the right side for the first 20 minutes to launch their attacks.

Maicon took a drill of a shot in the 27th minute only for the keeper to palm it out for a corner.  In the 34th minute the Brazilians made some audacious moves with some neat footwork and Robinho at the forefront. Dunga looked disappointed and he might be thinking that he made a mistake not taking Ronaldinho for the World Cup. North Koreans are doing well in counter-attacks and their lone wolf-forward Jong Tae-se picking up the crumbs well. Brazil are patient despite being expected to take the lead, playing their cool passing play. North Koreans packed their defence. Brazil pressed on for 11 minutes in the North Koreans half before the full-time whistle is blown, It was 0-0 at halftime.

Brazil kicked-off from where they left off piling on the pressure and Elano took a shot and it deflects against the opponent.  Elano crashes another shot the 55th minute against the red Korean wall of defenders.  Kaka was brought down in the 50th minute on the edge of the box and a free-kick is given and Bastos takes it and it goes wide.

Another Brazilian attack is launched yet again after the Koreans lose the ball and Elano passes the ball to the on-rushing Maicon on the Brazilian right-wing, it is a tight angle along the corner-flag line, but Maicon smashes a goal just before it goes out of play in what is called an in-swinger shot. The Korean keeper Myung Guk was kept busy this time with a Bastos shot a palm out by him and clearance by a Korean defender in the 60th minute kept the Brazilians away for this time. Fabiano shoots over the bar in the 63rd minute.  Brazilians find it hard to penetrate the middle of the park because of the packed Korean defense, they pass the ball from wing to wing and try the occasional middle through ball, they succeed in the 72nd minute.

Brazilians play keep ball they play some neat passing before Robinho lays a neat through ball cutting through the North Koreans’ defense like knife through butter for Elano to slot in the ball in the 72nd minute for Brazil’s second goal. Immediately Elano is taken off and replaced by Daniel Alves and In the 77th minute Nilmar comes on for Kaka. North Koreans make two substitutions but it does not make a difference Brazilians pile on and North Koreans keep packing and defending. Ramirez comes in for Melo in the 84th minute, Brazil transition seamlessly and carries on from where they left off making another attack, this time Nilmar shoots only for the keeper to catch in the 85th minute.

Ramirez gets a yellow card in the 87th minute. Ji yun nam scores in the 89th minute a left-wing back who only came back in the late stages of the qualifying campaign to play for North Korea, he bashes through the middle of the box after a head on by his team-mate from a cross and smashes a goal to the left of Brazilian Keeper Julio Caesar.

It is a sucker punch goal. It must be said that any team will always find it hard against a team that packs it defense with 11 players it was truly difficult, but Kaka was not in the best of form and Fabiano was toothless in attack. There seem to be a lack of leadership in the Brazilian midfield, but the Brazilians always knew what they were doing never getting flustered and being patient a 2-0 victory would have been great, but the sucker punch goal against the run of play by the Korea DPR will go down as a blooper for the Brazilians, but make no mistake this is a Korean team that is militant and regimented in every way.

They stayed together for 4 months just before the World Cup, the North Koreans will probably play this way in their remaining matches (packing their defense and relying on counter attacks which are based on their boundless stamina) as this is the only way they know how to play.

The Brazilians will be more comfortable playing against Ivory Coast and Portugal with their open attacking play. Get ready for the spirit of 66 when North Koreans shocked everybody at the World Cup in England in 1966. Portugal and Ivory Coast don’t have it easy after their goalless draw they face two teams that are out for blood.

Back To The Drawing Board For Dunga.

In the aftermath of the Korea DPR V Brazil match, Dunga will have a lot to think about. Despite Brazil attacking all the way agaisnt a team that was mostly interested in defending, Brazil were still not their usual selves. This Brazil team is well like a team, they defend together and work well off the ball something that is not a normal trademark for a  Brazilian team. In Robinho his enthusiasm  for the lavish skills such as the step-overs were not there. He was more disciplined, but this match was crying for some neat “lockpicking” skills and Ronaldinho would have been a breath of fresh air and even Ronaldo. The joy, unconventional and clinical finishing of these two players were needed if not at the start at least as a susbtitute. A 2-1 victory might seem great and Brazil are still the only team who has not lost to a minnow in a World Cup (If Brazil lose to Ivory Coast that will not count this African team is not a  minnow anymore) . England, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Argentina at various times have lost to a minnow. The Brazilians have set such a  high standard that a   2-1 victory against Korea DPR is almost like a defeat.
There was a lack of a real playmaker in this  Brazilian  team, While South Korea have evolved from their stamina sapping performance to a more technical level the North Koreans have still maintained this side of their game. It is  in their psyche due to their communist and regimented outlook. Having said that  it is always easier to play against an open attacking team compared to a team like Korea DPR.

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