It's impossible not to have a good time watching Brazil, and not just because of the ladies, yeahhh. So far, the Brazilians haven't played that beautiful game we've all expected of them, but it's early, and Ronaldo hasn't lost all his weight yet. Give him time.
Your live blogger is Thomas Moyles, from The Middle Foam Finger. (He was here yesterday, and he'll be here again tomorrow.) Get all your fun Brazilian comments in, make fun of the fellas in that picture and keep your nose clean, people.
FULLTIME: After taking an early lead and maybe putting a little scare into Brazil, Japan allowed an equalizer just prior to halftime to Ronaldo and then plain got steamrolled in the second half. While Brazil had dominated play in the first half, they had trouble finishing, an issue that was resolved for them in the second as Kawaguchi made a meal of Juninho P.'s long drive and after that, Brazil settled down and killed off the contest with two extremely well-taken goals. Japan is eliminated from the Cup as they needed to win (and get some help, which they wouldn't have gotten anyway) to advance.
A historical note for today's match as Ronaldo scores 2 goals to give him 14 total goals in the 3 World Cups in which he played (although he was on the 1994 Brazil squad, he never got on the field), which ties him for the all-time scoring record with West Germany's Gerd "Der Bomber" Muller. The Phenomenon now has a great chance to own that record outright, especially considering how good he looked today after appearing slow and fat in Brazi's first two games.
(A quick shout-out to Soy Bomb, who correctly predicted the final score in the comments shortly after Japan opened the scoring. Don't awaken the sleeping giant!)
This has been The Electric Zarko. Don't drink and drive and stay safe in your respective neighborhoods.
93' A final spasm from Japan comes to naught as Nakamura forces a save from Ceni and then a corner fizzles out as the ref calls for time. An impressive performance by the ref by the way, as I hardly noticed that he was out there.
92' K. Nakata hits a long drive from outside the box, Rogerio Ceni makes a comfortable save. Ceni is the penalty- and free-kick specialist for his teams in Brazil, the current one being Sau Paulo. He either recently tied or passed the famously crazy Paraguayan keeper Jose Luis Chilavert in terms of goals scored by keepers.
90' The end of normal time comes with Brazil stroking the ball around the pitch, content to kill this game off. As I type this, they wind up winning a corner. 3 minutes of injury time.
87' Offside on Oguro as Japan tries to break Brazil's trap and regain some pride.
85' The second half has been all Brazil, Japan finally getting some offense and Gilberto Silva pulls down Kaji about 35 yards away from goal. Nakamura to take and wide.
83' An odd change as the goalie Dida comes out for Rogerio Ceni, who I believe is the all-time leader in terms of goal-scoring goalkeepers.
82' GOOOOOAAAAALAAAAZZOOOO de Brazil! Ronaldo ties Muller with a great shot from the top of the box. After playing a one-two with Robinho, Ronaldo turns his defender and smacks a stinging volley into the lower right corner of the net, giving him 14 total World Cup goals. 4-1 Brazil.
80' Just switched over to the ESPN team, they're talking about the US result. Of course. It's so relevant!
75' Yup. Time to put the kids to bed on this one, Brazil continuing to take the air out of the ball, even when they turn the ball over, it only takes them a short time to get it back. Cicinho having a great game at right-back tonight.
73' Brazil dominating play now, retaining the ball in the middle third.
71' Ze Roberto in for Kaka, Ricardinho in for Ronaldinho.
70' Inamoto sends a long shot into the photographers, Japan get the ball back and force a corner, which Oguro flicks out for a goal kick.
69' Robinho breaks through and sends a square pass just wide of Ronaldo on the far post with the goal-mouth begging.
68' Brazil, sensing that the game is slipping away from Japan, are starting to get fancy, turning on the flair and looking as good as a team can with yellow jerseys, white shorts and white socks.
67' K. Nakata gets his head on the free-kick; however, he can't direct it on goal and Brazil get the ball back.
66' Japan with pressure and Alex is fouled on the left side of the area. Oguro comes in for Takahara, who played for about a minute before getting hurt.
64' A rasping long drive from Robinho is slapped away from goal by Kawaguchi. The corner is take to Juninho P., who forces Kawaguchi into yet another save. Ronaldinho appears to go for the olympico from the corner and Japan eventually clears.
62' Takahara in for Maki and he almost immediately gets hurt. Stoppage of play and the Japanese fans, once so loud, have been taken out of the game as Brazil have absolutely bossed the game in the second half.
60 GOOOOAAAAALLL de Brasil! Gilberto (not Silva) scores to make it 3-1! Brazil immediately finds space on the break as left-back Gilberto sprints onto a ball over the top into space on the left, cuts into the area and cleanly places the ball into the far post. Great placement on that finish and Brazil look to be killing this one off.
57' Long strike from H. Nakata, easily handled by Dida.
56' K. Nakata in for Ogasawara. For Japan. You probably figured that out.
55' Brazil steams forward again, a cross from the left finds Ronaldo and Kawaguchi gets down to save well. The Univsion announcers are killing Kawaguchi for letting in that second goal, saying that he had made much more difficult saves earlier in the match and should have easily handled that one.
53' GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLL de Brazil! Juninho P. lets go with a thunderbolt from 27 yards out that completely catches Kawaguchi off-guard. A shot that on second glance, looks like he should have been able to save. 2-1 Brazil.
52' A rare spot of possession from Japan ends in an offisde call on Maki.
51' Japan finally get the ball into Brazil's half and promptly turn it over. Brazil goes back on the offense, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo playing a breathtaking one-two with a crisp backhell from Ronaldinho, only for Ronaldo to pull his strike wide of the post.
49' I'm not sure if Japan has gotten the ball across midfield yet. Brazil are just moving the ball around, foul on Japan about 40 yards from goal out on the left side. Juninho P. arcs a harmless ball straight into the arms of Kawaguchi.
48' Brazil hold it. Hold it. HOLD IT!
46' No changes for either side in the second half, Brazil immediately goes on the attack and Kaka has a shot blocked by a defender for a corner kick, which is, all together now: easily cleared by the Japanese defense.
45' Another added bonus of watching on Univision: ads for Mexican TV shows. Mexican TV is still firmly based on the theory that dramas be incredibly overwrought, comedies still feature soundtracks involving slide-whistles and spring sound effects and with both involving truly impressive amounts of cleavage. Folks, it's a winning formula.
HALFTIME: We go into the locker rooms tied as Brazil snatch an equalizer just before the half ends, Ronaldo finally proving that the tail has a stinger after Brazil had failed to convert possession into goals. Japan had been looking good after Tamada latched onto a brilliantly-placed ball from Alex and rifled his side into the lead; now they'll need to hope that they can catch another on the break and that Brazil will continue to have difficulties breaking down their final wall of defense. Ronaldo is now one goal away from tying Gerd "Der Bomber" Muller as the all-time World Cup leading scorer and I wouldn't bet against him getting it in the second half as he looks far better than he did in the first two matches, possibly because of Robinho's ability to drop back into midfield and help keep the ball moving.
46' GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLL de Braziiiiiiiiiiilllllll. Ronaldo with a close-range header on the second post. Ronaldinho had switched fields to Cicinho, who headed across the face of goal, Ronaldo winning Brazil's first header in the box and nods it home. The half ends immediately on the following kickoff.
44' Yellow card for Gilberto (not Silva) for obstruction on a Japanese break. Free-kick from about 40 yards out near the right sideline. Flicked on by Maki and well over the goal. Japan wins another header and this is getting a little weird. Somebody told Brazil that the other team is pretty short, right?
43' Another corner for Brazil, cleared by Japan for a throw. Brazil have had 7 corners today and have looked horrible on all of them.
42' The Japanese fans are in full voice, singing loudly. Ronaldinho motors down field, unleashes a series of step-overs and hits a weak shot easily saved by Kawaguchi.
40' Yellow card for Kaji. Brazil continues to hold the ball, Japan defending desperately at the edge of the area.
39' That Japan goal was given the full GOOOOLAZOOOO treatment by the Univision announcer, complete with the -AZOAZOAZOAZOAZO suffix treatment. A lightning strike by Tamada and Japan has hope, hope that is then dashed by a Craig Moore penalty for Australia, making the other game 1-1.
37' Robinho goes at the Japan goal at pace, laying the ball off to his left to an on-rushing Cicinho, who, when given a chance to cut the ball back across the face of the goal, hits a floating volley well over the crossbar. Goal kick.
35' Kawaguchi goes on a walkabout, leaving the goal open as he fails to take the ball away from Ronaldo on a long ball over the top. Brazil takes too long working the ball around and Ronadinho's eventual shot dribbles pitifully wide.
34' TWAT! That's liquid football! GOOOOAAAAL for Japan! Great through ball slid through by Alex to Tamada on the left side of the area and he does incredibly well, smashing a left shot near-post and high past a stunned Dida.
32' Ronaldo gets the ball at the top of the box and manages to turn and get a shot, which is blocked and easily collected by Kawaguchi.
31' Both teams are getting time on the ball on the offensive end, it's just that nobody's stepped up and played the killer ball, with even Brazil's shots so far all being fairly far away from goal.
30' Brazil continues to search for an opening, moving the ball around well and taking on the Japanese defenders. Japan has space on the break and seems to be hoping that they will be able to sneak a goal on the counter.
27' Slow Brazilian build-up results in a long cross from Cicinho into the box from the right side, a great glancing header from Tsuboi preventing Ronaldo from getting a clean header at cold. Japan clears and Brazil continues to build, eventually winning another corner on a blocked cross, which is then cleared (again) by Japan.
25' Another Japanese quick break results in another player getting too far under the ball and downing a passing zeppelin.
24' Great build-up from Japan and Brazil has to scramble to play a square ball over the end-line. Japan wins the header on the corner but head it wide of goal. Japan has looked like the stronger aerial team to date, having won all the corners at both ends of the field.
22' Ronaldo knocks it back for Juninho P. who hits a laser towards the upper corner, Kawaguchi does very well to tip it over. The corner is cleared and Robinho races into the box before losing the ball to a strong challenge from Alex.
20' Strong shot from Ronaldo tipped around the post by Kawaguchi. Ronaldo is doing much better in this game and it seems likely that he'll get a goal at some point.
18' Great chance for Japan as Kaji gets the ball on the side of the area on the break and somehow sends the ball to one of the 2 Brazilian defenders, rather than the 4 Japanese attackers. Out for a throw.
16' More Brazil as Robinho blasts a shot from the top of the area, tipped over by the Japanese keeper. A corner follows as Brazil step up the pressure.
15' The ball falls well for the Japanese near the Brazilian area, they work it inside and Inamoto does his best Juninho P. impression by making sure the paying customers behind the goal are staying awake.
14' Juninho P. on a strong run into Japanese territory, he's hauled down and Brazil have a free-kick from about 35 yards out from the right side. Juninho P. does his part for public safety, knocking over a guy trying to steal people's purses in Row 54.
11' Brazil continues to attack, Cicinho laying the ball off to Robinho, whose volley from the upper right of the area is blocked out for a corner, which is easily cleared. Robinho looking very lively thus far.
10' Kaka manuevers for a shot at the left top of the area before putting a blast well wide of the upper right corner of the goal. He made two defenders look pretty silly there; the final shot was lacking though.
9' Japan is looking pretty good; they still can't get anything going in the final third, with Brazil doing a good job at staying in front of the ball and forcing the bad pass. Brazil enters into another strong spell of possession.
6' Brazil passing the ball around outside the Japanese box, holding possession easily, even after a Robinho run comes to nothing. The ball is almost lost, then worked to the other side, an incisive pass is put in to Ronaldo, who freezes the defenders with stepovers and launches a left-footed shot that's blocked well by the keeper. Corner comes for nothing.
4' A long cross from Cicinho is just too high for the corpulent Ronaldo and goes out for a goal kick. It will be interesting to see if Brazil play well with a supporting striker (Robinho) as opposed to playing with two center-forwards, as they have in their first two games. Croatia just scored against Australia, which is good news for Japan.
3' Japan break on a counter down the left with loads of space, however, the ball into the box is lacking and Brazil easily clear their lines. The Japanese retain possession and then give it away on a ball to no-one.
2' After a quick Brazilian attack, Japan gain possession and hold it in the middle third. Brazil is closing them down quickly and it will be very tough for the Japanese to get through. A long ball into the box from Nakata is off Tamada's foot and out for a goal kick.
1' Japan kick off attacking from left to right. Today's broadcast courtesy of U-ni-vi-sioooooon. The odds of the play-by-play guy singing the theme from "Brazil" : Pretty Good.
0' You are looking liiiiiiiiiiive at the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund, home of Europe's largest "stand" (section of seats behind one of the goals). Brazil in their traditional yellow kits (although with the odd choice of white shorts and socks), Japan in the blue and black.
PREVIEW: Although this match technically has some possibility of changing who goes through to the next round, chances are slim of that occuring. Japan still has a chance to go through; however, to do so, they most defeat Brazil and Croatia must beat Australia, plus the scores of each game have to work out such that Japan has either higher goal difference or goals scored than Croatia. The easiest way for this to happen is for Croatia to win 1-0 and Japan to win 2-0. This doesn't seem too unlikely on the face of things, that is, until you consider that Japan is playing Brazil. If you hadn't heard, they're supposed to be pretty good. Brazil has already clinched first place in the group.
This should be an exciting and attacking match as Japan must play for the win and Brazil isn't under much pressure having already clinched their position in the knock-out stages.
There's also some interest in the fact that Japan has a decidedly Brazilian slant, with Brazilian legend Zico as their head coach and naturalized Brazilian Alex as their starting left-back.
JAPAN: Japan will be without captain Miyamoto as he is suspended through yellow-card accumulation. The Japanese have been unable to find much goal-scoring in this World Cup, with their only score coming on a very strange goal against Australia. The key men for them will be Nakata and Nakamura in the midfield, as they are their best passers and the players who look most likely to score (Nakamura being the scorer of the aforementioned goal). Japan cannot act like the US and sit back, as they need to play to win and denying Brazil the ball seems to be the best form of defense.
23 Kawaguchi, Yoshikatsu
7 Nakata, Hidetoshi
8 Ogasawara, Mitsuo
10 Nakamura, Shunsuke
11 Maki, Seiichiro
14 Santos, Alessandro
17 Inamoto, Junichi
19 Tsuiboi, Keisuke
20 Tamada, Keiji
21 Kaji, Akira
22 Nakazawa, Yuji
BRAZIL: Although they've stuttered through their first two games, Brazil are still going through and as such are starting a fair amount of players who usually sit on the bench. Most Brazilians and neutrals should be interested in seeing how Robinho does in the starting lineup as he replaces Adriano. Robinho is a live-wire of a player and should provide a couple good moments regardless of whether he scores or not. Ronaldinho has been unusually quiet thus far and it would be nice to see if he can have a good game now that the pressure's off. He's joined in midfield by a couple of new starters in Gilberto Silva, Arenal's defensive destroyer and Juninho Penrambucano (referred to hereafter as Juninho P.), a dead-ball specialist who might be the best free-kick taker in the world.
17 Gilberto Silva
19 Juninho Penrambucano