If you're the type of person who's still upset about the United States losing to Ghana last week, you might be lamenting that this could have been the U.S. playing in this game. But you know what? We highly doubt you're that type of person.
Therefore, we get Brazil vs. Ghana, the ultimate favorite vs. underdog matchup. Each team is missing one of its best players, but the loss of Michael Essien should hurt Ghana a lot more than Brazil will miss Robinho. But hey: One never knows.
Your live-blogger today is Robert Weintraub, a freelance writer whom you probably know best from his work at Slate. Follow along in the comments. We like both these teams, so hey, everybody's a winner. But Brazil: They're actually going to be the winner.
Wow, that went super-fast. Thanks again to Will for the opportunity, I had a blast. Off to ice my carpal tunnel. Enjoy the rest of the Mundial!
Ronaldo gets the American Idol version of Man o' the Match—I give it to Dida myself. Honorable mention to the Lion of Ghana, Appiah.
So classic, clinical Brazil—they don't play well for long stretches, but in the end a comfortable victory. Give Ghana all the credit, they played their typical fast, strong, close control game, and got oodles of chances. They clearly missed Essien early, and there will always be the what if? factor. But Brazil sniffed out the Ghana gameplan, knew they would be vulnerable to through balls beating the offside trap, and got the result they needed. Ronaldinho played his best game so far, which isn't saying much, and El Gordo nicked a classic sniper's goal with flair—a worthy one to pass Muller and get the record. It's just a shame Ghana can't be allowed to play a loser's bracket match with Australia—that would be a fun one to watch. it's Africa's misfortune to always wind up with a sympathetic side having to match up against a world giant before they can really make some noise.
How come the fans don't swap their crazy get-ups with opposing fans? I know I wouldn't want to drag some of that costumage on the 14 hour coach flight back to Accra.
AND THERE"S THE WHISTLE! 3-0 BRAZIL. THEY ADVANCE TO THE QUARTERFINALS
92' Brazil wins a corner. C'mon, stop pressing for the rub it in goal! Ghana deserves better. But AGAIN Kingson comes out to save the day, after Juninho gives Juan a gorgeous flick in.
91' Another chance for Appiah, you know what happens.
90' Another superb save by Kingson, as he is single-handedly keeping this one respectable. Ronaldinho was crying for a square pass, to no avail. Balboa is only just coming around to the idea that the Brazilians aren't best buddies. Gee, a bunch of multi-millionaires who all think they're the shite don't sing and samba together? Those Nike ads are BS?? I feel so used.
89' Pentsil gets off a skidding shot that Dida again is on top of, with no rebound off a tricky hop.
88' It's Tachie-Mensah's turn to find space but put one right at Dida. On the counter Ronaldo does a good job holding off the defender, and unleashes a shot that Kingson gets an extended arm on to deny another Ronaldo brace. He'll wind up with the most goals in the tournament, just wait.
87' We're into looking ahead to the quarterfinals mode, as Spain or France awaits the Selecao. Roberto Carlos bangs one from distance, a bit cheeky given Ghana's excellent effort today.
86' Ghana wins a corner as they play for a goal they deserve. But Muntari's corner is over everyone.
84' GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG—I'm a stutterer. But another offsides trap beaten, and Ze Roberto flicks past Kingson brilliantly then taps in for a 3-0 Brazil lead. He's had a tough time in the midfield today against Appiah, but give Ze Roberto credit for a super run and classy finish. If only Ghana could've finished so well.
84' Brazil just slowing it down now, toeing it around, to loud derisive jeers.
83' That will do it for Kaka, he's off, Ricardinho is on. Nice to bring that kind of skill off the bench. I still have Argentina beating them in the final, though.
81'' Yellow card given to Asamoah for diving, which is his second, and his day is over. Pretty obvious dive in the area—can't really fault him at this stage, anything to sneak a goal and give his team a shot. But it's now a ten-man Ghana, and now they are really hard done for.
80' Pantsil almost heads one past his own keeper, with a much too potent header given the space between him and Kingson. The keeper prevents a road gang from taking the machete to Pantsil back home.
79' More nice Ghana play, as Aasmoah is set free after a Ronaldo turnover. But the omnipresent Dida comfortably grabs it.
78' He can't be hurt too bad—a nice Muntari turn results in a shot, but again his long range shot is nowhere close. Ghana simply can't penetrate, and Brazil is like a basketball team zoning up, allowing a bunch of perimeter shots.
76' Balboa opines that the best players show their stuff at the national team level, not at the club, in reference to Ronaldinho. Bet the good folks at Barcelona who pay his enormous salary just spit up their aperitifs. Meanwhile, Dida slides out to grab a loose ball and catches Muntari at an awkward angle. He's up and limping.
75' This is a recording—Appiah builds up some steam and uncorks one, but again much too high. He screams in frustration, which I think they heard on the Gulf of Guinea.
74' Kingson comes scurrying out to head away a speculative ball toward Ronaldo.
73' Asamoah finds yet another small crease and fires, but is way off. They've given a heroic effort but good keeping and some poor finishes have let them down.
69' OOOOOOHHHHH!!!!! Another fab save by Dida to deny Asamoah, and he dives on the rebound. Dida has been called the weak link at times, but he is having a man of the match type game. Last Ghana sub, Alex Tachie-Mensah in for the weary Amoah.
67' Iffy foul goes against Ghana, they look like they might be tiring having to chase the game. The cure—Pimpong! Muntari goes down without a Brazilian influence—looks like more fatigue.
63' Ronaldo wants to put some distance between himself and Herr Muller, and Ronaldinho supplies him with a chance, but the shot is blocked.
62' Ghana needs to get Pimpong in there! If only to provide O'Brien yet more opportunites for corny puns.
61' Cafu long overlap run, but his cross is easily parried.
59' Unconfirmed confirmation from ESPN that Ratomir was indeed booted. Love to see Ghana come back so we can show how useless managers are come gametime. Meanwhile, Ghana continues to press, forcing a corner. Eric Addo is subbed out for Derek Boateng—Addo has taken a beating. The corner gets Pantsil a back of the head flick that sails wide. Now Juninho, who scored against Japan, comes in for Adriano. Oh, how we miss Robinho here...
57' Another perfect Ronaldinho dime to Roberto Carlos, whose toepoke is denied by Kingson. Adriano waves in frustration, alone at the far post. He looked like Ronaldo frantically tryting to flag down the hot dog vendor (OK, enough!)
55' Gorgeous Ronaldinho look is bungled by a clumsy Adriano touch. Looked like a Ghana handball wasn't called. Then Draman hacks down Lucio, who has spent a lot of time grabbing various parts of his leg.
53' A PA announcement worthy of Leni Reifenstahl is blaring over play, to the point where the players are looking up and around in confusion. Probably Beckenbauer left the lights on in his Mercedes.
52' Draman gets an opportunity off a gorgeous couple of touches in the area, but is wide and high again.
51' They're saying Ghana's manager Ratomir Dujkovic of Serbia, may have been tossed for arguing the Adriano goal. On the other hand, the guy used to coach the Rwandan national team, so perhaps he understands the benefits of laying low when behind.
50' Asamoah is Gyan to be a handful all day, it appears—another chance off a nice flick goes wanting wide and high.
49' Ronaldiniho looks for Adriano but it goes right to the keeper instead.
48' Ghana could really use a quick goal for a jumpstart, and they're pressing, but Asamoah just picked up a yellow for a frustrated kick of the ball into the stands. If a Ghana fan came all the way to Dortmund for this clash, he should get to keep the ball, it says here.
46' And we're back! ESPN just flashed a stat that reveals Brazil hasn't lost a halftime lead at the WC since 1950. No problem. Marcelo says a buddy from MLS watching at home says Adriano's goal was indeed offsides, which says it all about MLS, actually.
Halftime sub—Gilberto Silva comes on for the gimpy Emerson, no shocker there.
This scoreline isn't promising for further glimpses of throngs gathered in Ghana watching their heroes go down to expected defeat.
Ghana has outplayed Los Canarinhos for most of the game so far, and all it gets them is 2-0 down, which against Brazil is nearly insurmountable, let's face it. Appiah has regrouped from a shaky start, and he and Amoah are a handful inside. Brazil are content to play the counterattack game, and have beaten offside traps twice for goals. It won't get them many plaudits, but this is how Brazil always approaches World Cup play—build up slow, don't get overextended, and turn it on starting with the quarterfinals. It's a testament to their extreme skill that they can get away with often lifeless play, yet still cruise ahead.
Looking again at the goal, a nice play of advantage ny the ref started it, then Lucio alertly plays wide rather than to the clearly offsides Adriano. He looked onside from the pass from Cafu—actually Shilla the Ghana defender got a piece of it before Adriano kneed it home. That is the sort of flowing open play that makes the game "beautiful"—refs get slagged a lot but his refusal to stop play on a foul in the Brazil half allowed the play to develop.
HALFTIME 2-0 BRAZIL.
46' Correction—that was Cafu on the cross to Adriano, Kaka gave it to him on the overlap.
46' GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO—you know the rest. Adriano on a classic counterstrike, a tap-in from Kaka's cross that might have gone in on its own. Ghana is screaming for offsides—and Adriano was definitely in an offsides position but Lucio I believe played it wide, making it passive offsides, so it looked legal at first blush.
44' Juan picks up a yellow for a severe challenge on poor Eric Addo. Free kick from 25 yards, golden chance for Ghana—but Appiah is well high on his attempt. But Ghana is dominating the action!
42' OOOOOOHHHHH! Somehow Dida gets a foot on a powerhouse Mensah header looking for the equalizer off a corner. Kick save and a beauty as Marv Albert would say. Best pure reaction save—you know he'll be claiming credit for working on that sort of save since boyhood in the post-game interviews. But it was pure luck—could just as easly gone through his legs.
41' Longest span of time without announcer commentary—:07. Hey, I said I would lay off, sorry.
40' Eric Addo gets used as a stepladder by Ronaldinho, who should have been booked but he's Ronaldinho. So Addo writhes around without a hint of sympathy.
37' Lucio returns to a chorus of whistles from the Ghanaian ER interns. Adriano hauled down, Eric Addo (in for Essien) whistled. No reaction from the Ghanaian supporters, although it looked like a dive. Free kick by Ronaldinho well off the mark, standard for his WC so far. The canary jersey is like Kryptonite for him.
35' Juan makes a hash of a clearance, after getting away with a handball in the box. Asamoah almost gets free but Emerson clamps him down. Now Lucio is down grabbing at a thigh. Ghana is very strong, they are winning the collisions, if not the game.
33' Ronaldo (Deadspin login: JennyCraig9) has been invisible since his goal. Maybe he's looking for Kingson's dropped 'T'?
32' Dida fouled as he leaps for Pensil's cross—good call, Amoah led with the 'bow.
30' Ronaldinho's first good shot gets a lot of curve, good stop by Kingson. Corner then results in a near post chance stuffed again. Quick counter by Ghana, excellent pace results in a shot for Draman, who skies it high. Emerson down on the pitch, allowing everyone to catch a breath. Great action!
28' Dangerous ball into the Brazilian box results in a loose change attempt but Amoah right at Dida. Ensuing counterattack results in a yellow on Pensil for getting too much lead into Kaka.
27' Good one-touch passing enables Muntari to break free but offside flag is up. Ghana is having free rein between the center line and the box—Kaka and Ronaldinho will always allow the opposition some space as they are always thinking attack. Emerson and Ze Roberto need to clamp down a little further upfield.
25' Muntari slide tackles Kaka after a 30 yard run. Brazil gets it back and Ronaldinho sends Roberto Carlos on a long sprint down the right—but RC sends into the stands.
24' Amoah gets a ball right at the top of the box all alone, but duffs a grounder wide of the net. Ghana has controlled the action the last 5-7 minutes.
22' Emerson stuffs an attack on the left—Brazil's D looks open but comfortable they can dispossess anyone before trouble strikes.
20' Mensah with a scary back pass to Kingson that almost gets picked off by Kaka—shades of the Kaffour gaffe against Italy.
19' Ghana's best sustained attack results in an offsides on Asamoah, after a bicycle kick duel won by Lucio inside.
18' A Cafu foul gives Ghana a free kick for Muntari from the left—easily cleared but Draman recollects and lashes one that Dida puts over the bar for a corner.
17' Ghana looks real shaky—a quick Brazil goal was like sugar in their collective gas tank. C'mon Appiah, rally the boys, for the sake of the continent!
16' Cafu called for a shove as he tries a long run toward goal.
13' And another yellow, this one on Adriano for diving. A square to Ronaldo would have been 2-nil. Adriano looking to deny Ronaldo another goal? Rumors Adriano is headed to Real may be in the back of their minds? Nah—too cynical. Give Kingson credit for aggressive play there, but where is the back 4? Playing way too forward.
11' Another yellow as ref Lubos Michel from Slovakia looks to seek control, unlike some other (Russian) refs we could name.
10' O'Brien relates that several Brazilians tried to cheer up a disconsolate Essien on the bench. Hey, the Brazilians want him out there—their ultra-cynical press will be sure to note his absence regardless of how well they play.
7' Another look at the goal shows where Essien will be missed—an acre of open space in the midfield for Kaka to operate. How did we ever liveblog before the advent of the DVR? Oh, that's right....
7' Yellow for Muntari—he must have dug the view from the stands.
5' Oh man! Ronaldo must have known we wanted early goals after yesterday's debacle, and he get's it done—a perfect thru ball in from Kaka to El Fenomeno, who leaves Kingson grasping at broken dreams with a sick move. Bye bye Muller!
4' Darman with a nice overlap, but his cross goes to a wide open space. That's the key—getting in behind the fullbacks and look for the box.
3' Muntari works his back into the swing of things by fouling right off the bat, Ze Roberto milking it.
1' Ronaldo quickly offside by about a slab of ribs. He's up front in the standard Brazil starting XI, with Adriano.
0' I was going to make a joke about live pictures from the ESPNZone in Accra, but there are live shots from a dusty looking village.
0' So we got Dave "Here's the 2-2 pitch" O'Brien and Marcelo "That's not a card!" Balboa on the call. Pity, I prefer JP Dellacamera and John Harkes, even though Harkes sounds disconcertingly like Anderson Cooper. Plenty has been said (all of it bad) about ESPN's lead announcers, so I'll refrain from piling on.
These two teams met several times in Under-17 and Under-20 tournaments over the last several years, including in 2001, when nearly a dozen players between the rosters were on the pitch. Ghana won that quarterfinal game 2-1, on a goal by John Mensah. Will history repeat itself? Did Santayanna get a bet down? Thanks to Will for the opportunity, and let's do this—Brazil-Ghana, it's on-ah! (I gotta calm down)
PREVIEW: The final day of the Sweet 16 round and what a mouthwatering contest we have on tap! Everyone's second favorite team, Brazil, against the tournament darlings of Ghana. The defending champs against a nation making its World Cup debut.
Gimme a Hoo-hah two times Tuesday!! Let's take a closer look...
BRAZIL: The Selecao buried Japan 4-1 in their last Group F match, which got a lot of Brazilians to drop the butcher knives aimed at the team and brandish them instead at tourists foolish enough to venture into the flavelas. A lot was made of "Who Ate All The Pies?" Ronaldo breaking out of his stupor to bang home two goals, tying him for the all-time WC lead with Gerd Muller, who wasn't exactly playing with a sprinter's physique himself. Key to El Fenomeno's resurgence was the insertion of Robinho into the lineup, both for his sublime skillz and his not being Adriano, who meshes with Ronaldo like tunafish meshes with gravy. Sadly for everyone, Robinho strained a thigh in training and is unavailable. So the "Magic Square"—as the quartet of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Adriano, and Kaka are called—will have to stop making fluid offense disappear, as they did in the first two matches.
Meanwhile, the leaky-looking Brazil defense will be under heavy pressure from what promises to be a go-for-broke Ghana attack. Forward-thinking wingbacks Cafu and Roberto Carlos will need to be aware of counterattacks catching them upfield.
GHANA: Ironically, the team called the Black Stars list as their official colors white shirts, white shorts, and white socks. Sadly, the African debutantes' bid for a monumental though definitely conceivable upset will have to be done without talisman Michael Essien. The Chelsea midfielder fell victim to the Weisser Engel, Markus Merk, the German dentist who didn't even ask Essien "Is it safe?" before handing him a harsh yellow against the red, white and blue (this entire World Cup has been one long Marathon Man reference). Essien came in carrying a yellow, so he'll be watching the game in the finest tracksuit $47 million can buy.
But Africa's lone remaining hope will have Sulley Muntari and Asamoah Gyan back from their suspensions. Muntari in particular is key, as he needs to hold possession and build the attack while simultaneously ensuring Kaka doesn't go off. Ghana took the game to both Italy and the Czechs (not so much against the US—we were kind enough to hand it over to them). Should they do so against Brazil, figuring they need to get some goals to have a shot, the defense—in particular the "Rock of Gibraltar" John Mensah, will be key.