Holland v Slovakia and Brazil v Chile

1. This is the first time in my memory that Holland is winning ugly, or at least winning less-than-beautiful. I take this as a good omen though I’m somewhat biased. It’s a much lower-variance game, which is necessary to win single-elimination tournaments (see, eg, Italy, Germany).

2. Holland Slovakia wasn’t really as close as 2-1 indicates, although Slovakia did miss a great opportunity at 1-0 which obviously would have massively changed the game. Slovakia’s goal came on a penalty that literally ended the game. There was no further play after the ball hit the net.

3. Brazil scored on a corner kick around the 30th minute. It was their 6th corner, which is somewhat weird, since their goal came against the run of play. A great individual effort from Juan to get up and connect on the header.

4. Before Brazil’s goal, they looked pretty shaky, didn’t they? They had gotten into a track meet, counter-attack followed by counter-attack of the opposing team, which is high variance and the sort of tempo an underdog should want. Lucio looked like he was going to blow up while whining and get red-carded. Usually dependable Douglas Maicon took a Cristiano Ronaldo-style dive in the midfield where no one touched him, yet he looked like he might lose it shouting at the ref. He was, in my view, quite lucky to avoid yellow for the dive, and even luckier to avoid the yellow for dissent.

5. Hopefully Holland v Brazil will be a great game. This isn’t the Brazil we normally see, but a Dunga-ized joyless defend-first Brazil. On the other hand, this isn’t your normal Holland, but a team that actually seems to be committed to playing the defense necessary to win when they don’t convert the chances that they should convert.

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