Friday, June 23, 2006

Brazil 4 Japan 1

Uh, oh. Don't look now, but Brazil is starting to get that look about them. You know the look. That look.

Despite several near misses and surprisingly falling behind, Brazil hit full throttle for the first time in the World Cup in pounding Japan. After looking borderline disappointing against Croatia, and decent but not impressive against Australia, the Samba boys were simply awesome in this one. Clinical. Deadly. Scary good. They reached that level that, really, only they can where they come at a defense in waves, from all directions, like a storm, and do it with smiles on their faces that suggest thay get complete satisfaction from making an opponent look silly. When that happens and you're an opponent, you just pray the killing goes quickly. If you're a fan, you just sit back and enjoy the show. They scored four, but it easily could have been double that. So, so pretty.

The scariest part? Ronaldo looked, dare I say, awesome. What a turnaround from the first two games where the masses (including yours truly) were laughing at his weight and calling for his move to the bench. Carlos Alberto Parreira did shuffle his frontline and brought in Robinho as expected, but it was Adriano who found himself a sub, and not Ronaldo. It must be nice having these options.

Ronaldo's change of form could have been the result of two factors: 1) It may have taken him a couple of games to get his body (which still isn't in great shape, by the way) into a workable state, or 2) perhaps the partnership with Adriano is not a good one. When you think about it, Ronaldo and Adriano really are very similar strikers. They're both large, powerful dudes who can beat you with brute force and a deadly shot as much as they can with speed and agility. Pair them together and perhaps they get in each other's way and negate their abilities. When Robinho is paired with one or the other, however, he provides a smaller, darting, speedster who can cause chaos from all sides while Ronaldo or Adriano are allowed to be the big dude in the middle. He's the yin to their yang, instead of too much yang. Robinho just complements either one better than they complement one another.

Or maybe Ronaldo just decided to turn it on. Props to him for tying Germany's Gerd Muller atop the all-time World Cup scoring list with 14 goals. This has to be one of the most hallowed records in sports. You have to figure Ronaldo has at least one more in him (or two? four? five?) in this World Cup and that he'll hold the record all by his lonesome for a long, long time.

Brazil-Ghana looms as what could be a very entertaining second round matchup.


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