Update, 4:20 p.m.: Brazil 2-1 North Korea. Recap: Well, Brazil came out slowly and shakily in the first half and were totally unable to break down the Great Wall of Korea, who defended with guile, substance and heart. The South Americans came out fantastically in the second half, and finally broke through with a phenomenal play by Maicon. After Elano’s beautiful goal, the game appeared over, though North Korea made it interesting at the very end, pulling one back in the 90th minute. Brazil managed to open the game up in the second half; over all, though, they looked a bit off, not the classic Brazilian side. At the same time, though, this game was more exciting than traditional first-round matches, and the Brazilians showed they were able to break down a total-defense style team. The North Koreans, on the other hand, showed that they were MUCH better than their FIFA ranking suggests–though they are clerly the worst team in the group, they did show that they won’t roll over and die in the face of better opponents. So far, eight of the first 14 matches have been scoreless through the first half.
Man of the Match: Maicon. The right back looked fantastic throughout the game, as much of Brazil’s play went through him. His goal was pure skill (with a little luck), and he was a constant threat throughout. Fantastic game.
2:00 p.m.: Welcome back to the Blargus’ daily LiveBlogging of the 2010 FIFA World Cup; I figured I’d blog this game because it should tell us a lot about Brazil’s mindset, how they come out, how they look, and whether they’re poised to make a deep run. Earlier in the day Portugal and Ivory Coast played to an incredibly anemic, boring 0-0 draw, which told us more about their unwillingness to risk anything in the first game than it did about the teams themselves. This game promises some flashy play (probably), goals (again, hopefully), and some samba–the Brazilians need to come out and make a statement against the 105th ranked team in the world, and prove that they deserve to be favorites.
2:08 p.m.: The North Korean (and I’m using North Korea even though they prefer Korea DPR because it’s part of the Blargus style guide) squad has been quite sheltered and very few people know anything about them. Should be an interesting first game, though, because the North Koreans have confidently predicted that not only will they score against Brazil, they could even beat them. At least that’s what Jong Tae-Se, or “Asia’s Wayne Rooney“is predicting. We’ll see if he’s on to something in about 20 minutes.
2:15 p.m.: STARTING LINEUPS:
Brazil 4-3-1-2: Julio César; Maicon, Juan, Lucio, Bastos; Gilberto, Melo, Elano; Kaká; Robinho, Luis Fabiano.
North Korea 5-3-2: Myong Guk; Jong Hyok, Nam Chol Il, Kwang Chon, Jun Il; Chol Jin, Yun Nam, Young Hak, In Guk; Yong Jo, Tae Se.
The Brazilian squad has been criticized for being too defensive minded, not really playing the classical Brazilian “jogo bonito,” or samba-style beautiful soccer; coach Dunga has come under fire, but his response has always been “no one complains if we win.” And he’s right–don’t forget last World Cup, where a star-studded, “jogo bonito” Brazil prominently featuring Ronaldinho and Adriano was unceremoniously swept out of the Cup by France in quarters (a failure for Brazil).
2:20 p.m.: North Korean coach Kim Jong Hun has claimed recently that Kim Jong Il, the quasi-fascist North Korean leader, sends him tactics telepathically during matches. Fantastic. And for the record, Kim Jong Il has a fantastic sports resumé, having shot a 38 under par the first time he ever played golf. Don’t discount the North Koreans too quickly, especially if they can communicate telepathically–certainly an advantage in light of the whole vuvuzela controversy.
2:23 p.m.: Players emerging from the tunnel, to the thunderous roar of the vuvuzelas; national anthems, coin flip, SOCCER! Here we go!
2:27 p.m.: Jong Tae Se was weeping with emotion during the North Korean national anthem–big game for the “Asian Wayne Rooney.”
2:29 p.m.: GAME TIME!
2′) Beautiful run down the left wing from Robinho, passes to Kaká who’s dispossessed at the top of the area; the Brazilians look good in the very early going, but the Koreans look like they’re playing with a lot of heart.
3′) Maicon and Julio César are both coming into the World Cup after winning the Champions league with Inter, Martin Tyler reminds us, as Maicon makes a very threatening run down the right side–what a good player.
5′) Brazil’s not dominating possession, though North Korea doesn’t look particularly threatening–they’ll have to do a bit better to let Tae Se complete his promise of scoring in every game.
7′) Big shot from Elano after a great little move to get space flies wide; immediately after, Robinho makes a fantastic run in the middle and blasts on high and wide. Good pressure from the Brazilians.
9′) FANTASTIC play from Maicon on the right wing, and a good cross that comes to nothing. Maicon looks very active in the early going–lots of touches and dangerous, overlapping runs. Felipe Melo takes a long shot, off the mark.
10′) How important is it for Luis Fabiano to score today? The Brazilians, the commentators say, would love for him to get off on the right foot, and not worry too much about it–as Jong Tae Se makes a very pretty run through the Brazilian defenders.
12′) Korea does look quite organized in the back, but the Brazilians don’t seem to be having too much trouble getting opportunities–this is a case of talent over team, I think, because even if you have the best, most organized team in the world, you will still probably lose to a MUCH more talented team.
13′) Strong play from Yong Jo on the Korean right wing.
16′) Good forward movement from North Korea on the break–they found some space through Hong Yong Jo, and managed to get the ball to Tae Se.
17′) Maicon conducting an orchestra, telling people to calm down. Good work from the right back, as the North Koreans regain possession and begin a break.
18′) First real touch for Luis Fabiano, who has been pretty invisible so far.
18′) Very very long shot from North Korea–cheeky.
20′) A fantastic run by Kaká through the center leads to Maicon feeding Robinho in the box–bad shot, slow right at the keeper.
21′) Yikes. Kaká boots a ball way over Maicon’s head, out of bounds. Ugly play by the Madrid man.
24′) Very pretty little run from the Brazilians through the middle, but Luis Fabiano doesn’t follow Kaká’s train of thought, and misses a ball into space. The Brazilians seem to be pushing through the middle right now, and could really benefit from playing through the wings more.
25′) Jong Tae Se! Very nice move down the left flank off a pass from Hong. The North Koreans don’t look at all like the 105th best team in the world.
27′) MAICON! Great shot from the flank, almost mishandled by the North Korean Keeper. And Jong Tae Se is down, claiming a foul on Maicon–and replays show it was a dive.
29′) North Korea is pushing here against Brazil, looking good, but clearly less talented than the South Americans.
30′) Corner to North Korea after a quickly orchestrated counter, comes to nothing as the shot bounces wide.
33′) To be fair to Brazil, North Korea doesn’t look very threatening on their attacks, and this could be partly due to Brazil’s defense, which looks very organized in the back. Lovely bit of skill from Elano and Robinho!
35′) Good looking cross into the box looking for Luis Fabiano, but Chon manages to head it out–good play from the Korean center back. And here comes North Korea on the break.
38′) Dangerous offensive set right now from Brazil, but North Korea looks strong in defense, and here they come on the break.
39′) The Brazilians have not threatened very much so far, not a good sign for this team–but their defense does look solid (though this isn’t a huge accomplishment, given their opponents).
40′) That’s more like it: much more threatening little set there from Brazil, Kaká’s crosses with venom, barely cleared by the North Korean central defenders.
41′) Robinho wins a corner after a very nifty bit of skill on the right flank; comes to nothing though as the North Koreans clear it easily.
43′) Free kick to North Korea, as Gilberto Silva almost gets booked. Weird half for the Brazilians, who have dominated possession, but have lacked offensive ideas.
45′) HALFTIME. North Korea has managed to keep Brazil off the board, and have even threatened a couple of times off the foot of Yong Jo. Mediocre performance from the Brazilians, who have dominated possession without any real threats–a couple of long-distance shots, and only one or two shots on target from inside the area. If North Korea can hold this result, this could be one of the bigger upsets in World Cup history, especially in terms of the FIFA rankings.
46′) Here we go! Second half under way, after Brazil barely even showed up for the first one.
47′) Elano’s long shot is deflected; Brazil has come out quite well, pushing hard looking for the goal. Much better so far from the Brazilians.
49′) Elano’s shot blocked (again); while Brazil’s tempo and ideas appear stronger, they’re still lacking a threatening presence up top, as Robinho’s shot is blocked.
50′) Very dangerous free kick coming up for Brazil–foul on Kaká.
50′) UUUUYYY! Michel Bastos takes a blazing free kick that scoots just wide of the post–Roberto Carlos would be proud.
52′) Good keeping there by Myung Guk, but the rebound goes to Robinho who blasts the ball wide. North Korea has barely had the ball so far this half.
53′) Good counter attack from North Korea, ends up in a corner as Brazil has to clear it out of bounds.
54′) GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!!!! GOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLL GOOOOOOOAAAAALLLLL GOOOOOAAAAALLLL!!! MAICON!!!!! GOLAAAAAAAZOOOOOOOOO! Wow. Fantastic run by Maicon down the right flank, and from the touch line blasts the ball through a tiny gap between the keeper and the near post. Incredible shot from Maicon, though the Myung Guk could’ve done better.
56′) Brazil’s pressure has payed off, and now, hopefully, the game will open up a bit.
58′) Martin Tyler wonders aloud whether Kim Jong Hun will be getting a telepathic phone call from Kim Jong Il any time soon–he could use it. Will the Leader tell the Coach to push his team up? Maybe.
61′) Bastos takes a long-distance blast that stings Guk’s hands–we’re “a bit more samba-like” now! Very nifty skill from a few of the Brazilians right now.
62′) Robinho hits the deck after someone stepped on his ankle; the free kick catches North Korea out, but they flub the chance.
63′) UUUUYYYYY!!! Beautiful play from Brazil, as Kaká orchestrates a beautiful break, feeds Robinho, who lifts the ball to Luis Fabiano; “O fabuloso” flubs the finish, however. Very pretty from Brazil.
66′) Ally McCoist and Martin Tyler reflect on how lucky they are to be payed to watch and talk about the World Cup. Yeah guys, you are lucky. Assholes.
67′) Choi Jin is hurt, has to be stretchered off after jumping for a high-floating ball.
69′) Uh, oh, we might be about to have two Pak Nam-Choi’s on the field, if Choi Jin has to be subbed–numbers 4 and 14.
70′) Good. Choi Jin is coming back on, much to the relief of this blogger, and the ESPN announcers.
71′) GGGGGOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!!! GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLL GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLL GOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL!! WHAT A PASS FROM ROBINHO!!!!!! OH MY!! Elano makes a perfect run on the right flank, and Robinho feeds him perfectly in stride; all Elano has to do is tap the ball into the bottom of the goal–one touch, one goal.
72′) Weirdly, Elano is immediately substituted, and on comes Dani Alves.
73′) Good shot from Kaká, right at the hands of the keeper.
74′) THIS is the Brazil we all wanted to see. Chance after chance after chance, as Luis Fabiano gets the ball in the area–corner.
76′) Offside on Felipe Melo, on what would’ve been a fantastic goal-scoring opportunity.
77′) Kaká out for Nilmar.
79′) Nilmar, in his first appearance, blasts a shot from distance–good play from the youngster.
81′) Lots of long shots from Brazil right now, who have been getting better and better as the game goes on. Good second half from the Brazilians, as Nilmar gets called for a foul.
82′) Julio César makes his first appearance of the game, grabbing a North Korean free kick out of the air.
84′) Felipe Melo gives way to Ramires, as Brazil begins to give their younger players some World Cup time.
85′) NILMAR! After a long sprint from Maicon down the wing, Robinho crosses a small ball in to Nilmar who takes it on a volley–right to the keeper.
86′) JONG TAE SE!! UYYYY! Fantastic run through the middle by the Asian Wayne Rooney, who is dispossessed by Juan as he is about to score.
88′) GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL! GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL GOOOOOOOAAAAALLLLL!! JI YUN NAM! Fantastic move down the left flank, bursts through the Brazilian defense, and slots it past Julio César. Great moment for North Korean soccer.
90′) The North Koreans are very excited, as they should be, and are pushing up a little bit. Brazil has totally lost their focus on defense, as Jong Tae Se takes a blast from distance. Two minutes of stoppage.