Recaps and game analysis to follow one or two hours after each match.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Game 14: Brazil vs North Korea

Today Brazil, the world number one, faced off against virtual un-knowns North Korea, who are currently ranked number 105, according to FIFA.  Brazil would have many chances, but against the stalwart defense of Korea, they would find themselves struggling to score goals.

The scoring opened up in the 55th minute when Maicon of Brazil would fool the goalkeeper, Ri Myong-Guk, by pretending to send in a cross, only for the ball to sneak in the near post. Later, in the 72nd minute Brazil would once again capitalize, on a rare North Korean defensive mistake, after Robinho neatly threaded the ball onto an onrushing Elano, who would calmly net Brazil's second of the evening.

However, North Korea, not to go away completely empty-handed, would shock the samba footballers by netting their own goal in the 89th minute, after Ji Yun-Nam was able to navigate his way through the mass of yellow jersey's to score a very pretty strike. The final score would end 2-1, with the Brazilian's narrowly coming away with a victory.

It was clear from the beginning that North Korea were going to focus on defense, allowing Brazil to control seventy-three percent of the possession, and weathering twenty-six shots, the vast majority of which would be blocked or sail harmlessly wide. North Korea did show moments of brilliance on the attack, when the opportunity presented itself, in the form of Jong Tae-Se, who would routinely get around the big Brazilian defender Lucio. Not to be outdone, Robinho of Brazil would be a true workhorse, not only getting an assist on the night, but creating many other chances in between his narrow misses on goal.

Although North Korea began with a 3-4-3 lineup card (insert: as displayed on my TV, and commented on by the announcers), they played it more as a 6-3-1 throughout most of the match, something they are well known for. This daunting defensive wall would cause many headaches for the Brazilians, but ultimately they would come away with the win.

Brazil will really have a lot to work on if they hope to win this tournament. The tough defensive play of North Korea could certainly be a reason for the slow start, but when one takes into account that Brazil had twenty-six shots, but only two goals, shows how much Brazil needs to work on their finishing. There are several reason for this. First, Brazil played almost exclusively down the middle, which clearly does not work when the opposition clogs it with defenders, instead they should have focused on the sides of the pitch, where they would have the opportunity to take defenders on one-on-one. Secondly, Kaka and Luis Fabiano were no where to be found this match. With the two players only combining for three shots throughout the game. To fix this Brazil will need to focus on feeding the ball to these players more, instead of their defenders and wingers taking ninety percent of all the shots.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised by North Korea, besides there one thousand hired Chinese Nationals (who were payed to act as North Korean fans), they did have a couple players that impressed me. Notably Jong Tae-Se who plays his club ball in Japan. He had some amazing moves, and really troubled the Brazilian defense. I still have no belief that North Korea will move on, and let's face it, six defenders is extremely boring to watch, but if they want to score goals then Tae-Se is their man.

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