Friday, July 2, 2010

Rampaging Robben Stars In Dutch Delight!

Brazil has not lost a match in which Robinho scores and he made the Dutch net bulge twice in the first half hour. The first one denied as Alves was offside but on the half hour mark, Robinho latched on to a through ball from Felipe Melo to bend one past Stekelenburg. Brazil one nil up and looking menacing as they repeatedly danced round the Dutch midfield and defence. The Selecao were in full stride in the first half and Brazil were on course for the semifinals as the Dutch looked shell shocked.

But football is played in two halves and the Oranjemen took over in the second half. It was now Brazil who looked uncertain and nervy. Arjen Robben's pace and dribbling trickery troubled the left side of Brazil and neither Bastos, Juan nor Melo could cope with the flying Dutchman's directness and constant provocation.

It did take an own goal and a straight red card for the frustrated Felipe Melo to completely swing the match towards the Dutch. By the time Melo received his marching orders, Clockwork Orange were already two up thanks to an Arjen Robben assist. Wesley "the Smurf" collected his third goal of a personally satisfying tournament.

During the second half, the European-disciplined Brazil was ironically undone by some sinister Oranjemen gamesmanship. Time wasting, play acting, players going to ground, little pushes and kicks were occurring all over the pitch. That clearly riled the Brazilians up and distracted them from the real task at hand which is to find that elusive equalizer. You could say that Brazil was outwitted by the Dutch employing the traits of South American football.

In the end, Brazil ran out of ideas and were launching balls upfront ala route one football, it was ugly. Clearly the loss of Elano was a big void to fill, no thanks to some punishing tackles by the Ivorians. The Dutch did a job and with Robben in full flight, they have possibly the second most frightening sight in this tournament. The Oranje contingent will be quietly confident of reaching the final this year.

No doubt Dunga will point to Melo's sending off as the pivotal point where Brazil could no longer compete against the Dutch uprising. However Kaka would be kicking himself for not squaring the ball to Nilmar on the 83rd minute. Nilmar had peeled away from the last Dutch defender and had an unopposed view of Stekelenburg in goal.

The press and public were waiting for an excuse to attack the unpopular Dunga and Brazil have an unfortunate scapegoat. He now steps down as coach and I think Brazil will regret his departure. After all, you can't deny that "Dopey" has been a winner during his tenure at the helm of the Brazilian team, delivering the Copa America (2007) and Confederations Cup (2009).

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