Paulo Bento walks back and forth between his bench and the edge of the court. The coach of the South Korean team is no longer sure whether to shout out his instructions in a few English words or choose silence. In the second half, the Portuguese is no longer excited. He no longer has much to hope for. When Paik Seungho sends a dry shot into the Brazilian net (76e), the coach keeps his hands in his pockets while his assistants celebrate this honor, a team eliminated by stronger than that, although the South Koreans have not been undeserving.
“If we played a series of games, Brazil would always win, but in one game we have our chances”, had tried to sell Bento during the press conference the day before. In reality, his South Korea never had a chance in this Round of 16, this Monday, December 5, at the 974 Stadium in Doha, beaten 4-1 by a Brazil in demonstration, at least in the first half. The error of a first goal conceded too early (Vinicius, 7e), to the talent of an opponent who is as poochy as he is brilliant, to the return of a sparkling Neymar before ending at a slow trot. It is also the fault of this logic from the continents, who want the quarter-finals of a World Cup to remain a closed club run by Europeans with Brazil and Argentina as permanent guests. Unless Morocco beat Spain on Tuesday, which shatters safety.
But the time for surprises seems to have evaporated with the end of the first round. “The defeat is real, we have to congratulate Brazil, they were better than us”, recognizes Paulo Bento before announcing his departure after four years in charge of the Taegeuk Warriors, “Proud of the work done and of our Mondial. » In tonight’s defeat, the departing man somewhat regrets the sheer size that his players offer. Bento would have liked to see his team defend lower, indulge less and offer wide areas like the Doha Ring Road.
The Brazilians did not ask for much, motivated by the idea of giving some happiness and comfort to Pelé, “King” bedridden and who made it known that he was following the meeting from the hospital. The three-time world champion must have appreciated Neymar’s mastery of converting the penalty (awarded by French referee Clément Turpin, age 13)e) and especially this third goal. It is unclear whether it was Brazil 1970 – perhaps the finest of them all – but there was a mixture of circus, magic and collective genius in this act. Like a street juggler, Richarlison bounced the ball off his head four times before starting a triangle with Marquinhos and Thiago Silva until the perfect finish (30.e).
“I hope Pelé enjoyed the game”
At that point, it was no longer really a round of 16 with tension and drama, but a meeting of artists, in which Vinicius took part, acting as a sleazy Lucas Paqueta for the fourth goal (36e). It was Brazil and its fantasies. Its yellow jersey, its five stars, its founding myths, its jogo bonito, this way of presenting oneself to the world more beautiful than the others. But in football, magic is often an illusion. Korean naivety helped, her refusal to close the game as well. “During our first round we had faced teams that were very close together at the back, this was not the case with Korea and we were able to take advantage of that.”recognized the evening’s most beautiful scorer, Richalison.
From the next round, Brazil will hit hard, in the very specific with the outgoing finalist, Croatia, winner of Japan on penalties (1-1, 3-1 on penalties). On Friday, it is difficult to imagine Tite, a rather rigid coach by his person, sketching a few dance steps with his players as after Richarlison’s famous goal. Still less taking out his goalkeeper Alison Becker (not completely out of work against enterprising Koreans) to offer a few minutes of the World Cup to his third goalkeeper, the very happy Wewerton.
For now, this Brazil is all smiles and lightness. No one thought to blame him for this more relaxed second term. La Seleçao found the essential on Monday, a happy Neymar, chosen as the man of the match and reassured by his injured ankle at the start of the tournament against Serbia. ” When I got injured, I had a bad night, I was thinking about millions of things, I was afraid of not playing this World Cup anymore. he confessed at a press conference.
As always, Neymar has done it too “thank God” and had a comforting word for Oh Rei (the king) : “I hope Pelé enjoyed the match. » If he didn’t turn off his TV too quickly, perhaps he saw “Ney” and his partners posing at the end of the meeting behind a banner with this legendary photo of him, full of happiness in the arms of Jairzinho after the victory against Italy during the final in Mexico City in 1970. Brazil was big and beautiful that day. The one of 2022 can take the road, reconnect with victory and beauty, but he still has three games left to prove it.