North Korea make Brazil sweat with counter-attacking industry
Second-favourites Brazil (4/1) kicked off their World Cup campaign with a surprisingly narrow win over North Korea but can look forward to improved performances.
The five-time champions defeated the 2000/1 outsiders 2-1 thanks to a magical strike from Inter right-back Maicon and a classy finish from former Manchester City midfielder Elano.
Nobody could have predicted that North Korea would breach a seemingly impenetrable Brazilian back line, though, but late on Ji Yun Nam did just that.
The goal was just reward for Kim Jong-Hun’s side unexpected endeavour and the team’s defensive unity could prove a challenge for their future Group G opponents Portugal and Ivory Coast.
Indeed, with the limited attacking play on show in the teams’ 0-0 draw earlier on Tuesday, it wouldn’t seem too rash to suggest both could struggle to break down the Asian side, ranked at 100/1 to win the group.
Portugal were held 0-0 by Cape Verde Islands after all. A repeat scoreline is a tempting 8/1.
While not dishing out the thrashing expected – or, given the poor goal return so far in the tournament, hoped for – Dunga will be pleased his charges got off to a winning start.
Ominously for others planning on lifting the trophy come July 11th Brazil began their 2002 triumph with a 2-1 win also, on that occasion over Turkey.
Every time the nation has won the cup they have commenced the tournament with a win – 2-0 over Russia in 94, 4-1 over Czechoslovakia in 70, 2-0 over Mexico in 62 and 3-0 over Austria in 58.
Robinho looked sharp and set up Elano (9/2 to finish the country’s top scorer) with a wonderful through ball, while Luis Fabiano (15/8) and Kaka (6/1) will surely improve. They are 6/4 to finish on nine points and 2/1 to collect a total of seven.