As has been pointed out, Brazil is like the Yankees it's OK to like. Few people think the Brazilians are arrogant or full of themselves, and rarely do people root against them. We think it's because every single Brazilian person we've ever met is extremely attractive. That's more than we can say for Johnny Damon or Melky Cabrera.
Anyway, the World Cup favorites kick off today, right now, actually, hence this whole "live blog" thing. Brazil takes on Croatia in Berlin, wherever the heck that is. It should be fun just to watch the Brazilians.
Your man with the plan is Michael Colacicco, of Naughty Baseball, so follow along in the comments and feel free to email us with thoughts for Michael. We'll pass them along to him. And, as always, enjoy Brazil.
Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed the game and look forward to doing it again...CHEERS!
The man of the match: I'm going with the obvious choice of Kaka...and lo and behold, ESPN agrees with me. A case could be made for Ronaldinho who created a lot of offense, and played well defensively. And a special third place prize should be given to that ballsy Croatian, who managed to get through security, run on the field and make a name for himself on this here blog.
Post-Game: Foudy's back on, looking glorious as ever. As for the game, the Brazilians didn't look quite as overpowering as expected. In the second half Croatia put on more pressure and had three or four legitimate shots at tying this game. But then again, Brazil also had a handful of opportunities to go up by two scores.
GAME OVER: Suprise, Surprise
BRAZIL 1-CROATIA 0
Injury Time: Srna with one last shot for Croatia—he crosses, but it's cleared out by Brazil.
88:00: Apparently ignited by the actions of the jeaned fan running across the field, Prso chips the ball to Kranjcar, but the ball lands on the top-netting of the goal.
85:00: HA. Finally some excitement. I was running out of things to say. A Croatian fan just sprinted across midfield! I didn't really see it because ESPN doesn't support such endeavors, but the game has been stalled for about 2 mins.
83:35: Emerson hits the ground hard...The Croatians need to get something going. They're playing like they're up 1-0—getting stuck on their heels inside their own 18.
81:42: Cafu, this is what I get for calling him an old man, makes a nice run down the sideline, resulting in a corner for Brazil.
79:00: More of the same. Brazil is attacking, but can't finish the deal. Croatia has been largely on their heels in the last ten minutes. On a side note: Croatia has nearly caught up to Brazil in fouls. They aren't leaving without getting their moneys worth.
73:00: Brazil attacking. Robinho takes a shot, stopped by Croatia. Adriano a shot off the rebound and the ball sails out of bounds.
71:40: Kaka nearly strikes again. Misses slightly wide right on a laser from outside the 18.
69:30: Croatia's Babic with another hard shot for Croatia, but Dida smothers it.
68:54: SUB: Ronaldo out, and Robhino in. No pressure for this kid—he's only been labeled as the next Pele.
67:00: The Croatians attacking much harder in this half. Darijo Srna, a young and very talented player putting on most of the pressure, but Croatia keeps coming up short.
66:07: Croatians don't get mad, they get even. Robert Kovac avenges his brother by nailing Adriano to the ground, and a booking in the process.
65:00: Prso with another strong drive down the center of the Brazilian defense, but he's stopped short.
61:50: Cafu with a great cross to Ronaldinho, but the header is stopped by the Octopus.
59:20: Roberto Carlos delievers a poor pass across field, and Prso intercepts it. Delivers a weak attempt at Dida.
58:00: Ronaldinho off a set piece crosses the ball into the box, but it's cleared by the Croats.
57:16: The Croatians can't beat the Brazilians at anything. Total fouls: Brazil 13-Croatia 7.
55:44: Ronaldo with a fabulous shot outside the box, but the ball sails over the bar. Really, the first positive thing for Ronaldo so far in this match.
53:01: A great shot again by the Croatians—Klasnic from outside the box fires a strike that Dida nearly drops. Definitely looks like a pro-Croatian crowd, given its proximity to Berlin, but there are many Brazilian supporters in attendance as well.
50:00: Robert Kovac delivers a great ball to Prso in the box—Dida with a nice diving save for Brazil. Croatia...inches from tying the game.
47:30: A great tackle by the other, younger Robert Kovac. I didn't mention it, but both these guys were born in Germany.
46:10: Foul on Brazil's Juan, a nice kick to a Croatian's back.
We're back. Croatia kicked off and not much doing.
Still Half-Time: Not that this is related to the World Cup, but the Golden Boy JJ Redick with a DUI late last night/early morning today. As a UCONN fan, I can say that Marcus Williams is officially off the hook for stealing those computers.
Half-Time: Brazil 1-Croatia 0. Ahh...The legendary women's soccer star Julie Foudy now with commentary. I think she's pretty hot, my friend says she's busted. Can anyone back me up?
44:00: I've always wanted to say this: KAKA SCORES! Crack open those Brahmas baby!!! A great shot from about 20 yards outside the box—upper left corner.
42:00: Emerson booked for stepping on Tudor's in-step.
40:00: Kovac finally goes off due to "injury,"—this time, for good.
38:00: Croatia with a nice opportunity on a set piece outside the box—Igor Tudor slides in, but the ball sails over his head. Best attempt so far by Croatia.
36:30: Brazil's Emerson with a nice shot outside the box that misses high. The Brazilians are up 6-2 in the shot category.
35:20: What do you know? Kovac is taken off the field on a stretcher, and then one minute later he's back...
33:30: Although I've mentioned a lot about the Croats thus far, the Brazilians still pretty much own this game. Adriano with a header that runs wide.
32:02: Foul just outside the penalty box for Brazil. Ronaldinho takes the free-kick, and hits it right into the "wall."
30:00: Like many soccer players though, Kovac seemed unable to get off the field a minute ago, but is gingerly jogging now. Funny how that works.
29:00: Nico Kovac and his cheeky headband are down. Adriano gave him a nice stiff-arm down the sideline.
I didn't mention it earlier, but apparently, Ronaldinho is worth $100 million dollars. Take that Cuban!! Kinda...
25:00: Croatians threatening again, but they can't seem to get through the final third of Brazil's defense. Great game. Lots of pace.
22:28: Waiting for it all day...no, not a goal, but Niko Kranjcar. Took a deep shot from outside the box that missed right.
21:01: A run by Niko Kovak—who is 35 mind you—tried to slice through the Brazil defense, but is stopped just beyond midfield.
19:00: Croatia with a corner, but it's cleared easily.
14:30: Off a corner kick, Roberto Carlos another great shot off a half-volley, and another great save.
14:00: Roberto Carlos from ten yards outside the box. A great save by Stipe Pletikosa, or the "octopus," as they like to call him.
12:45: Pretty slow right now. Old man Cafu just got a touch for Brazil.
As if the Brazilians weren't favored enough...ESPN2 just told us they haven't lost a first round game in WC play since 1934.
8:15: Counterattack by Brazilans. Ronaldinho to Kaka—shot wide right.
7:17 mins: Prso laying the pressure on Brazil. Croatia with a corner. Dida, a 6'5" giant makes an easy save.
4:40 mins: Dado Prso had an aggressive drive down the left sideline. The first relative break for the Croats. According to soccernet what this man lacks in skill he supposedly makes up for with his muscular and aerial presence...hmm...
2 mins: Croatians trying to set the tempo...A.K.A. knocking down their more talented counterparts.
1 min: Brazilians coming out in a 4-4-2. Roberto Carlos with a try early on, but it's wide right.
That's enough pregame crap. Let the games begin!
The Croatians will be more than happy to get out of here with a tie. From what I've heard, Brazil's only "weakness" is that the left side of their D tends to be a little too aggressive, having trouble getting back on the counterattack. Croatia should at least try to exploit this.
An intriguing match up: Fatty V. "Fatty"
Niko Kranjcar is called "Fatty," by the Croatian media for his lack of fitness. What could be worse? How bout the President calling you fat—Pres Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva asked Brazilian striker Ronaldo if he was fat or not during a videoconference.
Croatia...as Deadspin mentioned in their "four tiny tidbits," the originator's of the necktie, or, "cravat," as they like to call it, also has a rich soccer tradition and is the other favorite (besides Brazil) to make it out of Group F. Some controversy you should know about: Manager Zlatko Kranjcar is being mangled in the Croatian media for naming his 21-year-old son, Niko Kranjcar, the "playmaker," of the Croatian side. It's never fun to play with the coaches' son, but I don't think his dad is the only one who thinks he's good. He is supposedly coveted by Barcelona, Liverpool, AC Milan and inter.
Brazil: Known for beautiful women, the sinister little caipirinha cocktail, and the biggest party in the world, these guys are also pretty good at soccer. Heavy favorites going into the cup, this current Brazil side has all ready been compared to the great World Cup championship teams of 1958 and 1970. That Nike commercial says it all: Ronaldinho (the best player in the world), volleys it to Ronaldo (the formerly dubbed best player in the world), who volleys it to Adriano (the best player in Italy)...You get the idea.
A plan indeed.