Brazil 3 Ghana 0
To hear Marcelo Balboa tell it, Brazil is a dysfunctional collection of loosely-knit stars who aren't really anything special.
Balboa actually said during this game that he didn't get the feeling that the Brazil players got along, at one point even accusing Adriano of refusing to pass to Ronaldo on a two-on-the-goalie break for what would have been a sure goal - except for the fact that Ronaldo very well may have been offsides. Balboa also said that Brazil played flowing, attractive soccer against Japan in the first round, but that they didn't look so pretty against the tougher sides of Croatia and Australia and that the Brazilian fans didn't like it.
At this point, Balboa actually said this: "Brazil played good, solid soccer and that's something the fans aren't used to."
Let me repeat the quote so that it truly sinks in:
"Brazil played good, solid soccer and that's something the fans aren't used to."
Wow. I'm speechless. It's a good thing my fingers are still functioning.
Granted, I know what Balboa was implying - that the tougher style of Croatia and Australia didn't allow Brazil to play its famously stylish soccer, but still, that has to be one of the most ridiculous sentences I've ever heard come out of another person's mouth.
Ah, I'm just giving Balboa a hard time. The guy actually cracks me up. I was particularly amused today when Dave O'Brien cited a list of some of the all-time World Cup upsets and Balboa sounded genuinely insulted that he didn't list USA over Colombia in 1994. Sure, that was a nice win for us, but I don't think it resonates in the hallowed annals of legendary soccer moments the way Balboa thinks it does. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose.
But Balboa has been strangely hard on the Brazilians in this tourney. Today he even said that Ronaldinho has produced for Barcelona but has been a disappointment with Brazil. Huh? Just because Ronaldinho hasn't scored - which isn't his role on this team - doesn't mean he's been a disappointment. In fact, as the midfield general, Ronaldinho has done a dandy job of keeping the machine humming nicely. Brazil doesn't need Ronaldinho to get his, and he understands this.
That said, Brazil didn't look all that great today. Ghana controlled much of the game and had their share of solid of chances. They represented themselves admirably, for sure. So perhaps the scariest thing about Brazil is that, even though they haven't always looked at full speed, they still won today 3-0 and have outscored their opponents 10-1 thus far. What can we expect when they, at last, supply a performance that leaves no doubt?
Or are we expecting too much? Has the bar been set too high?
Ronaldo scored in the fifth minute by making Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingston look silly. He's now the all-time leading World Cup goalscorer with 15. But I'm sure Balboa still isn't impressed in the slightest.