On paper, you'd think you'd be able to guess the final score simply by looking at the countries involved, but this is the Confederations Cup, a largely meaningless tournament that serves only to clog up the summer vacation plans of some of the world's greatest players.
The Egyptians don't care, but will Robinho and co. emerge with a chip on their shoulder at losing precious nightclub trips, or will they settle under Dunga's watchful/boring eye and score at will?
I'm not actually prepared to call a result one way or another as I think there could be room for an upset, but I will liveblog the shit out of it as we go.
9.45am: I'm sitting with a large plate full of leftover lasagna, a glass of port, and a wicked inclination to shun liveblogging in favor of watching The Conversation. Whatever happened to Gene Hackman, anyways? He had a great run back in the day. You've got The French Connection, Scarecrow with a young, insane Al Pacino, I Never Sang for My Father, Hoosiers... is it true he hasn't done a movie since 2004? Insane, I tell you.
Popeye Doyle can wait, as we have the Confederations Cup.
9.51am: He retired? How did I miss that? Oh well... back to the task at hand.
We have squads!
Also, is no-one else covering this tournament? No liveblogs at the BBC, and the Guardian doesn't even have it listed in its "Live Scores and Fixtures" section. That said, we Brits are like that; if we didn't qualify, it doesn't exist.
BRAZIL STARTING LINEUP
Julio Cesar - Dani Alves, Lucio (c), Juan, Kleber - Elano, Gilberto Silva, Felipe Melo - Kaka - Robinho - Luis Fabiano
BENCH: Maicon, Victor, Luisao, Miranda, A Santos, Ramires, J Baptista, Kleberson, Pato, Nilmar, Gomes, Josue.
EGYPT STARTING LINEUPS
El Hadary - Hani Said - A Fathi, Moawad, Ahmed Said, Wael Gomaa - Hosni, Shawky, Hassan (c), Abo Terika - Zidan
BENCH: Fathalla, Elmohamedi, Khairi, Eid, Homos, Tawfik, Farag, Wahid, Abdelghani, Abo Grisha, Raouf, Sobhi.
1 min: Brazil try to get forward early, but Wael Gomaa wasn't gonna let Luis Fabiano get on the end of Dani Alves' long pass forward.
Also, a Howard Webb sighting! Look for controversial penalties galore!
4 mins: Patchy beginnings as the Selecao look to settle. Kaka fouled Fathi early.
5 mins: GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL... and those vuvuzelas continue to bore a hole in my brain. Lovely, composed finish from Kaka after Alves floated the ball into the middle for Real's new superstar. He touched it past two defenders who weren't very interested in defending, and then sidefooted it under El Hadary for a simple goal. Brazil 1, Egypt 0
Just the start Dunga will have wanted. The passing from Brazil is as casual as it would be if it were on the training pitch thus far.
8 mins: Better from Egypt.... GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL, and Brazil show why they suck at defending. Abo Terika was freed down the right wing (where the fuck was Felipe Melo tracking back), his cross was gorgeous right across the six-yard box, and Mohamed Zidan rises from the Bloemfontein soil to bury the ball past Julio Cesar. Lucio appeared glued to the turf. Lovely finish, and game on. Brazil 1, Egypt 1
11 mins: GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL, and I picked the right game to liveblog. Elano has a free-kick from 40-odd yards out wide on the right, he drills a decent ball into the crowded penalty area, and Luis Fabiano does phenomenally well to leap and guide the ball into the bottom left-hand corner. The goalie almost got a finger on it, but it was Gomaa's fault in letting his man get behind him. Brazil 2, Egypt 1
This was definitely worth getting up for. If you're looking for something to do with that misplaced energy of yours, get on Twitter and help #banvuvuzelas become a trending topic. Those things need to be burned at the cross.
13 mins: Gomaa does his job this time, blocking out Fabiano from reaching the left-wing cross.
Are those the dulcet tones of Robbie Mustoe I hear in the commentary box? It is some wonderful irony that one of the game's most boring, uncharismatic players is getting to describe a Brazil match to the masses. He appears to be awed by the flair on display.
17 mins: Felipe Melo, the "young" guy from Fiorentina, does well down the left to get his cross blocked out for a throw-in.
18 mins: I wish The Big Lead would stop pretending on Twitter like they give a damn about the Confederations Cup. Is that you, Ty Duffy? Are you penning those insightful missives?
Egypt knock it around in the middle of the park, biding their time for an equalizer. Based on the utter nonchalance for the Selecao at the back, there will be chances.
As I write it, Abo Terika switches wings to the right and skips to the touchline, winning a corner as Elano blocks it out for a corner. They waste it, and Brazil counter with Kaka who jogs all the way into the Egyptian area before losing possession himself. It was Boro man Mo Shawky who tracked back to aid his beleaguered defense.
21 mins: Of course, while we're all enjoying some live footy with our Corn Flakes, you're all thinking ahead to USA-Italy. Bigus Dickus will be liveblogging that one having returned from a brief trip back to Blighty. Thoughts on that one? USA really has no chance, do they?
23 mins: Brazil knock it about at the back in an Arsenal-esque fashion. Tons of room in the midfield for sideways passing, too. Egypt cough up a corner as Hani Said toe-pokes the ball off Robinho's foot, and then Juan should really have scored from the set piece; Elano's outswinger found him unmarked as Said went for a smoke break behind the goal, but he guided his header over the bar and into the throng of photographers behind the awning. Good chance wasted there.
Meanwhile, Howard Webb watches Kaka get manhandled by Fathi and awards a tasty free-kick on the edge of the box. All 11 Brazilian players line up to take it...
25 mins: I kid of course, but Elano's number is called and he bangs it right into El Hadary's arms.
Is the Egypt team nickname really The Pharaohs? Wouldn't that be a little derogatory? I mean, so many other things have come from Egypt beyond just Tutankamun. Or am I being too sensitive?
Good-ish chance for Egypt! Zidan has space at the top of the box, and his diagonal ball for Abo Terika juuuuust misses his forward run. Worth repeating: Brazil are rubbish at the back.
29 mins: The style is on display. I think I saw a backheel! Some nice interplay in the middle breaks down when Robinho gives the ball away at the top of the box.
30 mins: Fathi shows why right backs shouldn't be allowed to shoot very often, as his lazy run down the flank culminates in a rubbish daisy-cutter that ends up a mile wide. His teammate Hassan then emulates that with a soft low shot from 20+ yards that Julio Cesar collapses upon.
32 mins: What Would Amr Zaki do?
33 mins: Abo Terika, take a knee. Your twisty-turny dance in the box just cost you a scoring chance. Lucio was the only man back to defend after a speculative ball forward that the Egyptian was able to chase and collect, but instead of shooting, he kept stepping over until help in yellow and green arrived. Silly, really. Shoot first time! Still, the pair up-front in red/white are proving to be quite a handful. Which is more than can be said for Robinho, who is rather quiet thus far.
35 mins: Finally eating that lasagna I talked about earlier. Luis Fabiano tries to elude Gomaa on a run into the box, but the Brazilian throws too much weight into it and Webb whistles for a foul. Nevermind, as he was playing advantage for Hassan's late lunge on Kaka. Free-kick to Brazil, 30-odd yards out just to the right of goal. Dani Alves to take...
... and a brilliant save by El Hadari! Alves goes for goal, and it swerves and dips out of the South African sky, forcing a diving tip over the bar. Corner to Brazil...
37 mins: GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL, and if you thought Egypt were the Brazil of North Africa, you'd be mistaken. Based on the way they defend set pieces, they're more like Newcastle on the Nile.
Elano's corner is swung right into the danger area yet again (he's good with a dead ball, you know), and with the help of awful defending by Hosni, Juan gets to the ball first and powers his header through El Hadari's hands. Dunga's lot don't really deserve a two-goal lead, but you take what you can get. Brazil 3, Egypt 1
41 mins: If you had Egyptian captain Hassan in the "Who Will Hit One Into Row ZZ" Sweepstakes, come down to collect your prize. He steps forward from 25 yards and sends the ball higher and higher, baby... it's a living thing (synths)
42 mins: Note to Egypt: get the ball to Abo Terika more. He's your best hope, realistically. Does well in switching flanks and trying to get round the back of the Brazilian backline... plus he's the only one who can get the ball to Zidan.
44 mins: We're in that pre-halftime lull, no doubt inspired by the drunken bumblebee sound of those fucking vuvuzelas. Surely of all the concerns about WC 2010 in South Africa, those blasted plastic noisemakers are top of the list. Seriously.
One minute of stoppage time forthcoming. Egypt decide to use it to knock the ball around dangerously at the back under pressure.
45 mins + 1: So close! Hassan and Moawad link up well on the left, and once Moawad gets round the back, his cross is perfect for Hosni, who blazes a header just over the bar.
And that'll do it.
HALF TIME: Brazil 3, Egypt 1
Rece Davis and Lalas in the ESPN studio? No thanks -- off to finish this lasagna and refuel the port wine glass before the 2nd half. All joking aside, a good first half. The Selecao look comfortable, but they're leaving the door open for their opponents to come at them. That Brazilian backline is not very good.
Back! Sorry for the delay -- my son (2 weeks old on Wednesday) woke up and decided he was hungry.
50 mins: A Said committed a foul on someone, but the free kick was wasted.
Sub time for Egypt, and it's not who you'd expect: captain Ahmed Hassan is off, replaced by Ahmed Eid.
52 mins: If Egypt want to make a game of it, they need to start pouring players forward. Their attack is too piecemeal at the moment. Fathi gets wide down the right and tries to cross, but the backline holds. Eid then demonstrates his eagerness to the cause, dribbling into traffic at the edge of the box and losing the ball for a goal kick. Fine work, sub.
54 mins: GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL, and clearly the Egyptian manager is reading my liveblog. They surge forward with four or five in support of Abo Terika's initial run down the left. He steps inside and squares for Mo Shawky (Boro's finest!) and he drills it low under Julio Cesar from the edge of the box. Brazil 3, Egypt 2
GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL, and Egypt complete the comeback. The Brazilian defense opened wide, inviting Mohammed Zidan to beat the offside trap and finish emphatically under Cesar. Terrible, awful, ghastly defending, but wonderful attacking power by the red/whites. Dunga is apoplectic on the sideline, the veins in his neck bulging through his turtleneck sweater and suede jacket. Poor man. You need to find players who can defend worth a toss. This is reminding me of what might happen at the Bernabeu next season... Brazil 3, Egypt 3
PS. I told you in the preamble that this had upset potential!
58 mins: Brazil try to counter, but Kaka's cross-field run takes him away from goal and Hani Said is there to mop up his attempted backheel pass to Robinho. Then Juan gives up a needless corner. Abo Terika to take. It's short, and Gilberto Silva is there to knock it away.
60 mins: Kaka attempts to score #4 all by himself, receiving the ball back from Robinho around halfway and then sprinting at the Egyptian defense full-on, but of course he's not that good, and Hani Said survives to defend another day.
The game has woken up suddenly; that's what two goals in 45 seconds will do.
Luis Fabiano wins a corner off Gomaa, and I reckon Brazil will score again. Egypt are rubbish at defending corners... Dunga prepares a sub, and Elano gallops over to take the dead ball...
... Almost! The ball missed everyone and dropped to Lucio at the back post, but he couldn't control it with his left foot and the ball is cleared. Egypt look to counter, as Zidan finds Moawad wide left.
62 mins: Eid chops down Robinho, who's been absolutely rubbish thus far, and Precious Roy lust object Pato prepares to come on.
SUBS FOR BRAZIL: Ramires and Pato on, the Citeh pair Elano and Robinho off. One of them played well and took several good corners, the other just kinda jogged around a bit.
Wake up, commenters! This game is a thriller now. Both teams attacking and obviously not content with a point from this one.
65 mins: Hey look -- 65 minutes in and no Bangles references from ANYONE.
Fathi floats in a nice cross to the back post, but Shawky can't leap high enough under pressure from Dani Alves to get on the end of it. As Robbie Mustoe correctly asserts, Egypt are finding tons of room in the midfield. Gilberto Silva is invisible.
Seconds later, Alves puts a lovely ball to the back post, and Luis Fabiano, in front of his marker Gomaa, puts nary a touch on it. Goal kick Egypt. There are more goals in this one. I can feel it.
Dunga, perhaps unaware he's already used two subs, warms up four more subs on the sideline. Is gamesmanship really that necessary in the Confederations Cup that he needs to confuse the Egyptian coach as to his final sub choice?
68 mins: Pato sighting! He chases down the loose ball on the right wing, turns, cuts all the way back inside, runs across goal towards the left wing, marked the entire time by several red shirts, and shoots into Hani Said's legs. Well played, Duck.
No further tweets from The Big Lead? Did Ty Duffy fall asleep in his soup?
70 mins: Alves' production is rather good right now, but his teammates continue to waste it. It's Pato's turn, getting a head on another right-wing cross but drifting it over the bar. The midfield is wide open at the moment.
72 mins: Calling it right now: the USA/Italy game will not even come close to this level of excitement and tension.
Abo Terika gets by Dani Alves, but the right-back recovers and puts in his requisite 10-seconds-of-defending-per-game to snuff out the danger.
73 mins: Coulda been something! The first opportunity for a contentious decision today ends rather inanely, as Zidan is correctly flagged for a marginal offside and is robbed of his hat-trick. I mean, you know Julio Cesar wasn't saving that. Of the 5 or so shots on goal today, 3 of 'em went in.
CORRECTION: Egypt have had 4 shots on goal, scoring from 3. Nice conversion rate, that.
Sub for Egypt: Hosni off, Al Muhamadi on. Not sure what position #3 plays, but he's on to do a job in the final 15 minutes.
77 mins: Close for Brazil! Pato feeds Kaka on the edge of the box, and the #10 chests it down onto his right foot, volleying it narrowly over the bar with El Hadary beaten.
Another great chance for Brazil! Ramires runs right up the middle, taking advantage of some shaky defending by Hani Said to get on the end of a throughball. Said does just enough to get back and impede the sub's run, and then Ramires follows through with a boot into El Hadary's nuts that Webb whistles up for a foul.
Best goal of today THUS FAR: Shawky's. Fo' shaw'.
81 mins: Eid jinks inside from the right and fires a good low shot, but Julio Cesar is equal to it.
Lucio cuts out a low cross for an Egypt corner. Abo Terika puts it too far out and the chance is gone. From the clearance, Fathi pops up on the left wing and cuts in. His shot screeeeeeams over the bar with Julio Cesar at full stretch.
Final sub for Brazil: Andre Santos on, Kleber off... the sub wins his 1st cap for the national team. Good for him. Shame his team is bottling it right now.
85 mins: Luis Fabiano hopes that no-one sees him handle the ball to control it... but nothing gets past Howard Webb!
So close again for Brazil! Kaka gets through the middle and seems certain to seal the deal, were it not for a brilliant sliding tackle by Said to deny him with the goal at his mercy. Lovely last-ditch defending. Carragher-esque in its desperation and execution.
88 mins: Dani Alves ghosts past Moawad on the right flank, getting an ankle tackle for his efforts. Moawad goes in the book, and Alves has a free-kick wide right. Perfect for him...
... CONTENTIOUS DECISION ALERT! And the Selecao swarm around Howard Webb like Chelsea in the Champions League. Alves' free-kick floats to the back post, Lucio volleys for goal, and Elmohamedi handles it on the line to stop it going in. ElMohamedi is sent off, and Kaka readies to take the penalty...
... GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL, as Kaka coolly slots the penalty under El Hadary's dive to the right. Goalie guessed correctly but it was perfectly placed. Full credit to the Selecao for keeping the pressure on late as Egypt appeared happy with the draw. Brazil 4, Egypt 3
Four Minutes of Stoppage Time to come! Will there be more drama?
And yes, as you are noting in the comments, Webb got it right. Elmohamedi didn't do a good job of hiding his crime on the line.
90 mins + 3: Not much happening in the added time, until Eid cuts in again from the right and fires on goal. Cesar spilled it, but no Egyptian players there to take advantage.
FULL TIME: Brazil 4, Egypt 3
Based on how the two sides played the final half-hour, this result was deserved. Brazil showed more attacking prowess in the dying embers of the game, and rightly got their reward. An excellent game, and a lot for the US and Azzurri to live up to this afternoon. Come back for Bigus and that one!
Monday, June 15, 2009
Yeah, I was watching old movies yesterday