Friday, July 02, 2010



by Wayne Robins

When I woke up this morning, I was convinced that Brazil was unbeatable and would cruise through the remaining games, including the battle against the Netherlands, and win the 2010 World Cup. And their apparent dominance was confirmed in the first half when Brazil, the No. 1 ranked team in the world, scored a seemingly effortless goal against an uncharacteristically baffled Dutch defense: a straightaway breakout that, to once again use an American football simile, was like a quarterback handing off the ball to a running back, who runs right up the middle and without as much as a zigzag is astonished to find himself untouched in the end zone 80 yards later: The vaunted Dutch "D" left the entire middle of the field open. Dutch players were pointing fingers at each other: I think it was the great Robben himself seen pointing at himself with agitation and shouting at the sideline something like: "Me? It wasn't my fault!"

Brazil led 1-nil at the half, and the Netherlands, No. 4 in the world, and as the second period began seemed to be using its usual defense/counterattack strategy. That's not often the most advantageous style when trailing a team like Brazil, which the Netherlands hadn't beaten in international team play since 1974.

But Brazil was stunned and Holland elated by a double-header goal early in the second half. The Orangemen seemed aflame, and now it was agile, beautiful Brazil looking befuddled. When Melo of Brazil got a red card and was ejected in the 73rd minute, leaving Brazil to play with 10 men for the rest of the match, the now-flying Dutchmen took advantage, scored a second goal for the lead, and nearly nailed a third. Brazil didn't quit, but they certainly lacked their usual footloose flair. Before the inevitable, unexpected denouement, TV announcer Martin Tyler reflected on the stunning momentum change. "In sport, as in life, it's all about seizing the moment." The Netherlands did just that and is going to the quarterfinals, and Brazil, mighty, stylish and lovable Brazil, is going home: Not embarrassed, but nevertheless humbled and gone, gone, gone.

Google News

Labels: , , ,

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?