Brazil Dances Its Way Into World Cup Quarterfinals
Thanks to a spectacular performance against South Korea, Brazil dances its way into world cup quarterfinals.
On Monday, Brazil waltzed its way past South Korea and into the quarterfinals of the World Cup. In a dazzling performance at Qatar 2022, Brazil defeated its opponent by a score of 4-1 and advanced to the next round.
Brazil made a clear statement of its intentions to win the tournament with this performance, as the team coached by Tite demonstrated why it was the pre-tournament favorite to take home the championship.
Brazil VS South Korea
Four first-half goals from Vinicius Jr., Neymar Jr., Richarlison, and Lucas Paqueta effectively ended the match as a contest, with a combination of shambolic Korean defending and brilliant Brazilian attacking play leading to the most one-sided game of this World Cup so far.
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Regardless of how porous Korea's defense was, the first 45 minutes were a football spectacle, encapsulating everything that has made Brazil both feared and admired at the World Cup over the years.
Brazil celebrated each of its four goals in style, even convincing head coach Tite to join in on Richarlison's 'pigeon dance' for the third goal.
Brazil's second half was little more than a procession as its players eased off the gas and began conserving energy for the much tougher test against Croatia on Friday.
Seung-Ho Paik scored a consolation goal for Korea 15 minutes from time, when his long-range strike deflected off Thiago Silva and went past Alisson into the far corner.
With news that soccer legend Pelé had been admitted to a hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil's players celebrated the victory at full time with a banner honoring the three-time World Cup winner.
Brazil Is Serious
Brazil came into this tournament as the favorite to win the trophy, but they have yet to deliver.
Tite's Seleçao has always been known for its pragmatism rather than the Jogo Bonito style of football displayed by some of Brazil's greatest teams.
Even by his pragmatic standards, the team's three group games were stodgy affairs, with only brief flashes of the flair we've come to associate with Brazil over the years - primarily in the closing stages of the 2-0 win over Serbia.
But pragmatism has resulted in a remarkably stingy defense; before Tite made nine changes for the third group game against Cameroon, Brazil had not faced a single shot on target in Qatar.
Brazil was also given a huge boost ahead of its match against South Korea when it was announced that Neymar would be able to play for the first time since suffering an ankle sprain in that first game against Serbia.
If Brazil's players needed some extra motivation for whatever reason, the news that Pelé would be watching the game from the hospital in Sao Paulo where he is currently receiving treatment would have certainly provided it.
Meanwhile, South Korea has advanced to the round of 16 after overcoming a difficult group that included Portugal, Ghana, and Uruguay.
But Brazil took the game seriously, allowing the Koreans only one touch of the ball in the first five minutes.
Raphinha's beautiful footwork started a flowing Brazil move, which was finished off with unerring accuracy at the far post by Vinicius Jr., who placed the ball perfectly past four Korean players after just seven minutes.
Woo-Young Jung mistimed his swing for the ball and instead caught Richarlison on the foot inside the penalty area, turning Korea's poor start into a nightmare. Although it was soft, there was enough contact for referee Clement Turpin to call a penalty.
On his return from injury, Neymar made no mistake, strolling up and placing the ball to the goalkeeper's left.
The goal was Neymar's 76th for the national team, putting him one goal short of equaling Pelé's all-time record. By scoring, Neymar became only the third Brazilian player in history, following Pelé and Ronaldo, to score in three World Cups.
Soon after the penalty, Hee-Chan Hwang forced Alisson into a wonderful one-handed save, but that was the closest South Korea came to scoring in the first half.
Turpin, in fact, did a better job defending Brazil's players than any South Korean - at one point, the French referee inadvertently blocked off Neymar's path, forcing the Paris Saint-Germain forward to turn around and find a teammate.
With the outcome already decided, it was time for Brazil to celebrate. Before halftime, there were two more goals that showcased the best of Brazilian football.
Richarlison began the first half by playing keepy-uppies with the ball on his forehead before flicking it around a Korean defender, exchanging passes with Thiago Silva and Marquinhos, and slotting the ball past Kim Seung Gyu.
Vinicius stood the ball up to the far post for the onrushing Paqueta to volley home after a flowing Brazil counterattack.
This game had already ended as a contest, but it was now on the verge of becoming a humiliating night for South Korea, if it hadn't already.
It was without a doubt the best and most dominant half of football any team has played so far in this World Cup, as Brazil finally established itself as the favorite to win the trophy in Qatar.
If there was one positive for South Korea at the halftime break, it was that the score was only 4-0 rather than seven or eight, but the second half would be merely a damage limitation exercise.
Both teams had chances to score, but the goalkeepers held firm for the majority of the second half, until Paik's crisp half-volley on 75 minutes beat Alisson thanks to a deflection off Silva.
That was to be the final meaningful action of a match that, in reality, had ended at the 30-minute mark.
Brazil, and Tite in particular, will be pleased with the manner of the victory and the performance of star man Neymar, who looked sharp in his first match back.