Brazil fail to shine
13 Jun 2006 - 22:27:23
Brazil began their defence of the World Cup with a 1-0 win against Croatia, but the result was the only positive thing about their evening.
A stunning long-range strike from Kaka a minute before half-time secured the points, but the AC Milan star's goal was a rare moment of magic in a lacklustre display.
Two of the Selecao's much-vaunted front four - Ronaldo and Adriano - were anonymous for much of the game, while Ronaldinho's customary trickery produced little end product.
The holders struggled to get the better of Croatia's well-drilled five-man midfield during the first half and most of their attacking moves floundered on the edge of the penalty area.
Their best early chances came from long-range efforts and Stipe Pletikosa did well to tip over Roberto Carlos' 15th-minute drive.
Brazil took the resulting corner quickly and the Croatian goalkeeper was back in action straight away to push a shot from Ronaldinho away.
Croatia made some dangerous counter-attacks and Dado Prso proved a real handful for the Brazilian defenders, but Zlatko Kranjcar's men lacked creative quality and did not trouble the 'keeper in the opening 45 minutes.
The European side looked set to reach the break on level terms - an achievement their defensive play merited - until Kaka's moment of magic.
He collected the ball 25 yards out and unleashed an unstoppable curling shot into the top corner to enliven a disappointing match.
Croatia responded well and started the second half strongly, with Prso and Ivan Klasnic both testing Brazilian goalkeeper Dida.
Substitute Ivica Olic squandered a great chance to level the scores, choosing to shoot when a square ball to the unmarked Darijo Srna was the right option.
Brazil seemed happy to see out the game and, apart from a glaring miss from Adriano late on, lacked cutting edge going forward.
The players in the squad suggest the Selecao are capable of much more and they need to show it if they are to retain the trophy.