Brazil falls short of Jogo Bonito but takes first step

By Mike Woitalla

First came the opening ceremonies, in which Jennifer Lopez, rapper Pitbull, and Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte performed a colorful but cacophonic rendition of “We Are One” after climbing out of a peeled melon.

During warm-ups, Neymar rolled his ankle, but walked off the limp within a minute. He seemed to be fighting back tears as he sang and some 61,000 fans belted out Brazil’s national anthem. Then the 22-year-old proved he’s up to the pressure of leading Brazil in this World Cup it's expected to win in the 3-1 victory that was highlighted by and left these impressions …

Early own goal left Brazilians plenty of time to recover.  Eleven minutes into the 20th World Cup, Ivica Olic hit a sharp low cross that Brazilian left back Marcelo poked into his own goal. It was the 37th own goal in World Cup history and the first ever by a Brazilian. The hosts, though, had plenty of time to make it right.

World Cup Today: Thursday
Brazil-Croatia: Reaction

What position does Neymar play? Whatever he wants. Often he’s wide, but he roams the field and in the 29th minute pounced on a loose ball in the middle, beat one defender, took a few touches, and sent a low left-footed shot off the inside of the right post for the equalizer from 24 yards out.

Hand on shoulder not enough to drop Fred. Yuichi Nishimura rightfully cautioned Neymar for swatting Luka Modric in the face but the ref should have brought out yellows for Croatia’s persistent fouling. (The foul count was: Croatia 21; Brazil 5). In the 71st minute Nishimura sparked the tournament’s first fire-storm of officiating controversy by awarding a penalty kick when Fred fell in front of Dejan Lovren, whose only sign of a possible transgression was a hand on Fred’s shoulder that couldn’t have caused him to drop.

Besides Neymar, few delivered jogo bonito. The Brazilians will be satisfied with the comeback win, but it failed to establish much of a rhythm. We got only fleeting samples of the brilliance one expects from Brazil. They usually came from Oscar when he dribbled down the wing, often tricking his way past double-teaming markers. He scored a marvelous goal in stoppage time when he darted through the middle, fended off challenges and toe-poked the ball past keeper Stipe Pletikosa.

Center forward Fred was ineffective besides drawing the penalty kick, which Neymar slammed home with his right foot for the go-ahead goal. Hulk wasn’t a factor but tiny Bernard, his dynamic replacement in the 68th minute, made a case to get a start on Tuesday against Mexico.

Brazil failed to deliver a jogo bonito performance but perhaps the result will shake off the nerves and build the confidence needed to deliver the beautiful game as it continues its quest for a sixth World Cup title.
12 comments about "Brazil falls short of Jogo Bonito but takes first step".
  1. Terry Ellis, June 12, 2014 at 8:55 p.m.

    Pretty shaky work by Brazil and the PK should never have been awarded! From what I saw the officiating could have been better. All in all they do not look like a World cup winner so far but the contest is early. Mexico should be a good test for them.

  2. Glenn Auve, June 12, 2014 at 9:09 p.m.

    PK slammed home? Did we watch the same PK? GK got both hands on it. It was the perfect height for him to save it. It wasn't even hit especially hard.

    The lopsided foul count to me just says the referee let Brasil get away with more than he did the Croatians (including the foul that wasn't called that led to goal 3).

  3. Allan Lindh, June 12, 2014 at 9:12 p.m.

    Cheaters 3
    Fascists 1
    Ref -2
    Glorious start
    And tomorrow Spain v. Holland
    in an Amazonian cow pasture.

    Time for Platini to bite the bullet, and tell the world that UEFA will stage an alternate WC in 2016, and anyone who is sick of Blattner and his crooked cronies is welcome to join them.

  4. Thomas Brannan, June 12, 2014 at 10:46 p.m.

    All the Brazilians knew the words to their National Anthem. Will all the "AMERICANS" know the words to the Star Spangled Banner? I think it should be a requirement. No recitation, you don't play. Yea, really, is that asking to much.

  5. Bruce Gowan, June 12, 2014 at 10:48 p.m.

    I almost forgot that one of the dynamics of the WC is having ref crews who are not good enough for the game. This Japanese crew will be sent home tomorrow and will never work another WC game. To bad for the losing team.

  6. Bill Me, June 12, 2014 at 11:33 p.m.

    That Japanese crew knew exactly what they were doing and what they were sent to do. They will go home right after this one but laughing straight to the bank. I was so looking forward to this game but am turned off now for entire World Cup. That is as blatant one sided reffing as it gets. PK ?? Wasnt the PK for Crotia a clearer PK?? Neymar elbow is straight red no questions asked. Foul on goalie on header??? And finally the foul at midfield that led to 3rd goal !!! Down right corrupt!! Not even a question !!!

  7. Margaret Manning, June 13, 2014 at 2:50 a.m.

    What a sad start. I hope that the official was paid handsomely, because there's no other explanation for this ridiculous result.

    As for Blatter, wouldn't it be wonderful if the US joined UEFA to do something meaningful about the idiocy and blatant corruption? I'd go to the alternate World Cup.

  8. Charles Stamos, June 13, 2014 at 9:12 a.m.

    Some of the comments above are very extreme. It's not black or white. The Japanese crew's calls favored Brazil. The PK should not have been awarded. You could argue that Fred deserved a yellow card for diving or embelishment. The Crotian foul on Cesar was very marginal and could have been ignored, and that denied a Croatian goal. There was a clumsey tackle at midfield that could have been called which allowed the third Brazilian goal. A more fitting score would have been 2-2, but you have to take the result as is. We do not know how much FIFA or the home crowd influenced the ref crew; they may not get another game, which would be their punishment. Brazil lacked beautiful play and Croatia gamely hung around. The refs did not do well on the game changing decisions. A disappointing start. Let's hope for better today.

  9. I w Nowozeniuk, June 13, 2014 at 10:27 a.m.

    Allan L, seems like u need a chill pill. Yet, I agree that Blatter and his FIFA kahunas have shown terrible leadership and have caused the game to stagnate. As for the opener, stale performance by both squads, and as usual, the game speaks for itself, while the TV game commentary thinks otherwise.

  10. I w Nowozeniuk, June 13, 2014 at 10:29 a.m.

    Mr. Thomas B, I sense a bit of bias and prejudice on your part; ignorance moreso; that's from where the bias starts, Ignorance.

  11. Greg Morris, June 13, 2014 at 10:58 a.m.

    Clearly, on replay, not a PK and Fred should have been carded for simulation. That said, some of the statements above are just absurd. Straight red for Neymar? If that is the bar there would have been multiple reds in this and every other game. The foul on Julio Cesar is one that is called nearly every time when there is contact with the GK. "That is as blatant one sided reffing as it gets?" Please, get real. I realize that the officiating is always one sided when your team loses and usually when they win but lets at least try to not sound like screaming parents on the sideline of a U10 game.

  12. Nancy Carr-swaim, June 13, 2014 at 2:38 p.m.

    Chalk it up to nerves for everyone during this opening game. Brazil felt much pressure to perform well as host. The refs felt pressure to do a good job, especially for the host country. Any time a defender puts his hands on the shoulders or back of an opponent in the box is risky. Refs don't have the luxury of slo-mo replay and make judgment calls, although bad ones like this one was. Hopefully things will improve. Brazil shouldn't have taken 20 minutes to find their rhythm.

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