Sunday, 20 June 2010

Kaka Off But Plain Sailing For Brazil and Paraguay

Brazil 3 Ivory Coast 1, Soccer City, Johannesburg

Paraguay 2 Slovakia 0, Bloemfontein

It's starting to click for the men in yellow. This wasn't Samba football from start to end but there were some glorious glimpses of the potential of this team and a welcome couple of goals from striker, Fabiano. Long way to go but after the stuttering form of the European teams, Brazil is the clear favourite to win yet another World Cup.

In fact it was turning into a thoroughly satisfactory night until Kaka was sent from the field with around 5 minutes remaining after picking up a couple of bookings in quick succession. His second booking was never a yellow card and Abdelkader Keita needs to take a long hard look at himself for his shameful play acting. Kaka will be suspended for the final group game against Portugal. A real shame as he displayed moments of real class. Zidane, looking on from the stands, could no doubt empathise with his plight.

He created the first for Fabiano. Where most teams try to go round the back of the opposition, Dunga's men are happy to back their skills and find a way through the middle. A neat one-two saw Fabiano clear and his shot high into the roof of the net from a tight angle was nothing short of stunning.

Fabiano doubled his and Brazil's tally in the second half. This time the goal was all of his own making, swivelling in the box and using his left foot to rifle the ball home. However replays suggested he may have handled when bringing the ball under control.

Kaka's darting run down the left and glorious cross set up the third for Elano and by this time A Seleção was in cruise control. Still time for a consolation for Drogba and the regrettable incident that saw Kaka sent off but all in all a decent night's work and qualification for the next round assured. Not that it is ever easy to please the Brazilian fans. For many this was no more than a workmanlike performance that only fitfully sparked into life. England, France and Italy would kill for such mediocrity.

After the game Dunga made it clear what he thought about Kaka's red card:

'Those in charge of controlling the spectacle need to know what is football and what is not. It's hard to play with the style everybody wants if the referee allows this to happen.'

Not too much attention on Paraguay but Gerardo Martino's men are quietly but effectively plotting a path to the next round. A convincing win over Slovakia means that a win over New Zealand will see them top the group, no mean feat when they are in the same pool as the reigning champions.

Two cracking goals. The first from Vera, flicking it in with the outside of his right foot after a beautiful through ball from Barrios. Riveros sealed the win late on with a crashing left foot shot that left the keeper with no chance.

Once again it seems to be incumbent on the South American teams to play the attractive football in this World Cup. Few of the European teams would be brave enough to start with 3 men up front but with Valdez, Barrios and Santa Cruz at his disposal why wouldn't Martino go for broke. It's paying dividends so far.

The main man was happy:

'I think we fully deserved the victory. My side dominated for practically the entire 90 minutes.

'In the first half we could have scored on more than one occasion given the chances we created. After the break it was a more balanced affair but we still risked little.

'This is a very important victory because it puts us one step closer to the second round.'

If Los Guaraníes can secure victory against New Zealand then they could be up against Japan or Denmark in the Round of 16. Could just be the start of something special...

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