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Oranje samba on Friday

sports Updated: Jun 30, 2010 00:23 IST
Dhiman Sarkar

With clinical efficiency, Brazil dismantled Chile to cruise into the quarter-finals where The Netherlands lie in wait. For neutrals, that should be a lip-smacking tie in Port Elizabeth; one that would be well worth calling an early start to the weekend on Friday. For Brazil, it could be the tallest hurdle ahead of the final if Dunga's team continue to mean business.

There's been very little dazzle in Brazil's game so far. Maybe they have saved that for the Oranje boys. The rights to samba soccer have been bought by Argentina, their attacking flair making Brazil look staid in comparison. But if Diego Maradona's men have mesmerised their way into the quarter-finals, those under Dunga have been cold, calculating and ruthless.

Brazil have also been famously predictable. Everyone knows about the central midfielders who protect the backline, about why Kaka, Robinho and Luis Fabiano must be denied space and the havoc wingbacks Michel Bastos and Maicon can cause. Dunga has even been able to add Dani Alves to the mix. Before they started against North Korea, the world knew their starting line-up. Yet, for most part of four matches, teams have been clueless trying to stop them.

Ahead of Monday's night game against Chile here, Marvin van de Flierdt, a German journalist, said the same about Arjen Robben. All teams know Robben will either go for the top left or the bottom right corner when he is the range, but how useful has that knowledge been, De Flierdt asked.

As against Spain, Chile swarmed around Brazil, sometimes with five frontline players. As against them, they trailed 0-2 at the break. As upholders of attacking football, Chile entertained all right, but while they went home, Brazil counter-attacked into the quarter-final. Smart teams pick their fights. Chile didn't.

With five Brazilians behind the ball when they didn't have possession, Chile impressed till their front third. It wasn't till the 75th minute that Julio Cesar was really needed; making a reflex save with both hands after the impressive Humberto Suazo turned Lucio the wrong way and fired from close.

By then, the quarter-final in Port Elizabeth had been set up. Maicon's corner-kick was headed home by centre half Juan, whose partnership with Lucio is integral to the way Dunga's Brazil play.

Drawing an unequal triangle, the attacking trio of Robinho, Kaka and Luis Fabiano then created their second goal of the tournament and Brazil's second on the night. That was the first time Chile felt gobsmacked. Robinho's elegant placement following Ramires's strong run down the middle was the second.

In a team which does little without purpose, Robinho's showboating sometimes makes him seem like a profligate among the parsimonious. But then, he scored one goal, set up another and was adjudged Man of the Match.

The camaraderie on show at Ellis Park though seemed straight out of Argentina. There were hugs, high fives and huddles where men in thick overcoats jumped with joy in the technical area each time Brazil scored. Robinho and Ramires even broke through photographers to hand slap mates warming up behind the boundary. This squad too smells of team spirit.

But if Maradona is the child among men, Dunga acts his age. He celebrated the goals but soon after the final whistle was into the tunnel. No hugs and kisses for him. There's still business to be done.