Sunday, June 18, 2006

Brazil 2 Australia 0

Did I hear Alexi Lalas call Ronaldo a "waste of space?"

I think I did and that assessment seems a tad harsh, no? I mean, fat and worthless? Granted, I mentioned after Brazil's opener that Ronaldo maybe isn't starter material anymore due to his apparent reluctance to move beyond walking speed these days, but he's freakin' Ronaldo. Fat and worthless? Come on now.

To be fair, Ronaldo wasn't impresive by any means, but he did assist an Adriano's opener, and really, if a striker is somehow accountable for at least one goal in a game, it wasn't an altogether futile effort. Meanwhile, Adriano remains the quiet Bazilian who simply produces while attention gathers elsewhere. As much as Ronaldo and Ronaldinho get the majority of the Brazilian headlines, Adriano has quietly been Brazil's leading goalscorer for a while now. He led Brazil in scoring in the 2005 Confederations Cup as well as in World Cup qualifying. Truth is, he's the big gun up top these days, believe it or not, and not Ronaldo, so perhaps the Ronaldo bashing is a bit overboard. I wonder if Adriano would be even more productive if not being forced to work alongside Ronaldo. Maybe you make Adriano the man and say so? I know I would.

Brazil clinched the win late when Robinho rocketed a shot off the post that eventually landed at the feet of Fred. Good ole Fred. Just Fred. What was he thinking when his soccer name was chosen? Think about it. If you're a good soccer player in Brazil you're pretty much a god and you have the opportunity to pick a glorious one-word name to be remembered by henceforth and forever. It's an important moment in your life? So many great Brazilian names have rolled off the tongue over the years. Pele. Zico. Careca. Romario. So now it's your turn to pick a name...and you pick Fred?

What's with people who get down on Brazil simply because they didn't live up to some high aesthetic quality, some unattainable beauty? Lalas said on several occasions that Brazil wasn't "sexy." Sexy? What is this, a lingerie show? No, Brazil hasn't looked utterly dominating, but they're taking care of business, and personally, I though they found a decent offensive flow in the second half. It wasn't the famous, beloved "samba" style that everyone expects, but it was something to build on. And when Brazil starts buildig on something, look out. They're 2-0 and only finding their rhythm still.

Alas, as is often the case with Brazil, they looked susceptible on defense. Australia's failure to equalize at some point in the second half was not for a lack of opportunities. To their credit, the Aussies looked dangerous, even forcing one brilliant save in particular from Dida, and it's not often you see a Brazilian goalkeeper make a great save. Or have to.

Apparently, Gus Hiddink has found a role for Harry Kewell - coming off the becnh. Kewell has long been regarded as the jewel of Australia soccer, but it seems that everytime I see him with both the Aussies and Liverpool, he's starting the game, doing little, and then limping off and subbed. Against Brazil, he did the reverse, coming on as a sub and he looked very dangerous in the role.

If the Australians tie Croatia, they are into the second round. Something tells me that a Hiddicnk coached teams gets this done. Just a hunch.


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