Once the intensity of the game against Ivory Coast ebbs and his anger at their late physical tackles melts into the night, Carlos Dunga's no-nonsense demeanour might permit a smile.
All fire and brimstone before Saturday’s match the coach would be happy at how well Brazil's campaign has unfolded. Even Kaka's red card, assuming it gets the usual one-match ban, may not be too much of a setback. Their clinical dismantling of Ivory Coast means the blockbuster against Portugal is now a formality. Injured in the opener, Kaka might have been rested for the Durban tie.
Starting with the same team that beat North Korea, Dunga will be happy with how Luis Fabiano's feet moved, the right fetching the first and the left Brazil's second. Maybe his right hand too. But what could please the coach even more is how solid Brazil looked at the back.
True, another late goal happened but Gilberto Silva and Felipe Melo mopped up the midfield so well that Didier Drogba had little or nothing to do till the 54th minute when he beat Maicon and Lucio. And it wasn't just about this defensive duo in front of the back four; each player in a yellow shirt knew what his defensive responsibilities were. When Lucio goes on those rampaging runs, Silva smoothly slips into his position.
Julio Cesar's punching out Emmanuel Eboue's free-kick early and Kader Keita's hook-back late showed why he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. By the time Gervinho came on or Drogba, Brazil had sealed a passage to the pre-quarter finals.
Carlos Alberto Parreira and Sven Goran Eriksson have said this defensive solidity makes Brazil a realistic contender this time. “Brazil can go all the way. The quality they have, it is difficult to stop them. To beat them you need to be perfect. They are good, very good,” said Eriksson, the Ivory Coast coach.
That Brazil also showed panache should mean double happiness for their coach. When Robinho, Fabiano and Kaka linked up for the first goal, there were six Ivorians protecting their goal. Fabiano's back-heel to Kaka changed direction but continued the train of thought set going by Robinho's forward pass. Better marking could have stopped Elano from getting to Kaka's pass but then, as Eriksson said: “If you make a mistake, they will punish you and for the first and third goals we did make mistakes. In small spaces, they are very good.”