FIFA World Cup, Brazil vs South Korea: Brazil make strong statement in South Korea win

Tuesday, 6 December 2022 (11:51 IST)
There have been plenty of standout performances in the Qatar World Cup but, until now, none of them had been from Brazil. A scintillating first half display sent South Korea home and laid down a marker for everyone else.

So, here's what all the fuss was about. After a group stage where they waited, worked and did just enough, Brazil blew South Korea away to book a quarterfinal meeting with Croatia.

Vinicius Junior, Neymar, Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta all scored as Brazil surpassed their group stage tally within 36 minutes on Monday. The dance routines that followed the early strikes spoke to the tradition of a country that has defined the World Cup more than any other.

"We also play for Pele," said Vinicius of the Brazilian footballing hero who is currently in hopsital with a respiratory condition. "He has always supported us. When we think of him, it makes us strong."

Dancing through

The third goal was the pick of the bunch, both in terms of technique and celebration. After finishing a great team move, Richarlison ran through his routine first with his teammates on the pitch, then those on the bench. That included head coach Tite, whose pecking chicken impersonation was equal to men forty years his junior. 

As much as joy, their celebrations looked a show of unity and strength. With the exception of the second string's loss to Cameroon, and a late consolation on Monday, Tite's side have looked untroubled.

Goalkeeper Alisson was on hand to tidy up the odd lapse in concentration until Paik Seung-ho's excellent, if deflected, strike gave South Korea something that meant little.

With the return of Neymar helping to knit together their attacking play, there was little doubting the strength of Brazil's statement: "Brazil have really arrived now," added Vinicius. "We have a lot of confidence."

Resting up for Croatia

No team has won all of their games at this tournament — with Brazil, France, England and Spain resting players after getting in to a comfortable position. As such, despite strong displays from those sides, no one had really staked their claim to being the side to beat. They have now.

The second half, as they so often are after a first half rout, was more sedate, the men in yellow and blue playing within themselves before getting a touch sloppy at both ends of the pitch late on.

With their quarterfinal opponents Croatia having played an exhausting 120 minutes a couple of hours earlier and battled through an intense final group game against Belgium, doing the work early could be critical as the tournament progresses. Brazil even had the luxury of bringing on third choice goalkeeper Weverton late on, ensuring all 26 players in their squad have made the pitch.

For all their history, and all their talent, this group of Brazilians have not won a World Cup between them, with Brazil's last triumph coming 20 years ago. For most countries this would barely warrant a mention. For Brazil, it's a drought. The rest of the tournament contenders, can now see the storm clouds gathering.

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