By Suben Ravindran
The match was like a rocket that fizzled out. Brazil started the match explosively and kept up the pace throughout the first-half. There was special treatment for Pepe who is a Brazilian and plays for Portugal. He faked a foul in the early minutes against Luis Fabiano and from there he was marked for further special treatment from Brazil. Brazil played with Baptista and Alves as predicted in 90:00 soccer earlier. The steely midfield was there to be seen, but if anybody thought that this will compromise the attacking capabilities of Brazil, they were rudely awakened. The Brazilian team piled on the pressure and Portugal could not function at all. This was a Portugal team that was very different from the North Korea match. In only the first two minutes of the match Brazil received two corners and applied the pressure from there. Portugal had one breakaway attack and Juan handled the ball in the Brazilian half and received a yellow card.
Photo from fOTOGLIF
It would have been red as it was similar to the handball incident in the Serbia matches, but it was far away from the box. Daniel Alves did a Tae-Kwon-do style kick to Pepe and the treatment went on further as Pepe was also dishing it out.
Felipe Melo got a yellow card for doing a body check on Pepe and was replaced by Josue who hardly made an impact in the match. Dunga made a wise decision by bringing Melo off and putting in Josue in the 44th minute anticipating that Melo might get sent-off what he did not expect was Josue’s below par performance.
Brazil had most of the possession in the second-half, but both Brazil and Portugal were canceling each other out. Many cards were given to both sets of players and despite Brazil having most of the possession in the second-half, Portugal came out a different team for the second 45 minutes and Cristiano Ronaldo made some penetrating runs and should have scored when Raul Meireles fluffed a chance. They looked more stable in defense and the counter-attacks were more fluent. It was not a memorable second half for Brazil despite substitutions being made with Ramires and Grafite coming on for Baptista and Fabiano. The absence of Elano, Kaka was felt, but Dunga rested Robinho too who unlike Elano and Kaka could have played. In the end a 0-0 score-line was not a bad result for both teams, but the fans were left with nothing entertaining.