Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Brazil beat Croatia in the second Group match, in Berlin, Tuesday, but only by one goal.
Croatia had sat back and made it difficult but Brazil seemed to be in no great hurry to impress and was satisfied with the margin of victory.
One noticeable feature of the match, Brazilian forward Ronaldo appeared to display an exaggerated lack of interest in the game. Carlos Alberto Parreira substituted the Real Madrid striker after just over an hour.
“I don’t know what happened to him,” Robert Kovac, the Croatian centre-back said. “He didn’t run … It was very easy,” he said.
Second best to three Croatian defenders, with the experience of 181 caps between them, Ronaldo did not get a shot on goal until the second half.
The 72,000 fans in the Olympia Stadium saw the best of Brazil in the first half with Kaka and Ronaldinho bright in midfield. Lacking muscle from Ronaldo, Brazil was confined to long range shooting.
Roberto Carlos fired a shot from 40 yards, which was put over by Stipe Pletikosa; the Croatia keeper then, after 15 minutes of the match, tipped a Ronaldinho effort behind. Cafu also had a shot on target and another from Kaka went wide.
A successful long-range effort came from Kaka at 42 minutes. At the top of the semi circle he curled the ball with the inside of his left foot, the keeper’s right hand not even close.
The World Cup champions of 2002 were tested in defence as the Croatians probed for an equaliser. But the team with red and white chequers did not use their 50 per cent of possession to create many clear openings, nor did they capitalise on Brazilian errors.
On 59 minutes Brazil’s defence had a lapse in concentration: a misplaced pass between the back three nearly allowed the quick Croatian substitute Ivica Olic a chance on goal. The advantage came to nothing as the defence recovered.
The best Croatian chance fell to Niko Kranjcar, minutes from the end. When the cross came into the box the midfielder was unmarked – but his header went far over the bar.
The Croatian manager, Zlatko Kranjcar might consider a one-goal loss a good result against the reigning champions. Carlos Alberto Parreira might think by Brazil’s high standards the game was a bad training session.
But the result was a win and was Brazil’s eighth successive World Cup win, a tournament record.