The world champions must start as favourites to retain their title in Germany next year after demolishing Greece in Leipzig on Thursday.
Brazil not only outclassed the surprise European Champions but barely broke into a sweat as they eased effortlessly into their higher gears of football. Despite the absent Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos they have three attackers in Ronaldinho, Robinho and Kaka who are worthy of the title world class, not to mention the lethal Adriano, the globe’s number one striker.
The Inter forward Chelsea and others are angling to Dominoqq snatch was a bully to a frightened Greek defence, pulling a shot wide in the fifth minute when put through by Emerson, then robbing Angelos Basinas ten minutes later and forcing Theodoros Zagorakis into a last-ditch tackle.
Every cross from the South Americans seemed to unsettle the Europeans’ backline and if it was not speedy wing play then it was the upfield spurts of Kaka and Robinho that were scything through the meagre resistance offered, the two combining delightfully to draw a save from Antonios Nikopolidis after seventeen minutes.
Greece were lucky to cross the halfway line but did create a half-chance after thirty minutes when Sotirios Kyrgiakos flashed a header over from a corner. Every time Brazil attacked however they looked likely to score and their approach play was spiced up by crowd-pleasing stepovers, dummies and feints by the wizards Robinho and Ronaldinho.
These two combined with Kaka, their other attacking ace, after thirty-six minutes for the Milan man to draw a one-handed save from Nikopolidis before Adriano lit up the stadium with a goal of genuine greatness five minutes later.
Receiving the ball wide on the right twenty yards from goal, the Inter man took two swift touches to ghost wide of Kyrgiakos before twisting to fire off a thunderous shot which picked up pace as it flashed past a startled Nikopolidis into the net: Inspired, innovative and absolutely breathtaking.
Greece had a rare foray just before the break, with Angelos Charisteas beating the ball-watching Lucio to a cross from Giorkas Seitaridis but hitting the side-netting. But any hopes they might have entertained of getting back into the match were surely shattered a minute after the restart by another Brazilian masterclass.
Gilberto surged upfield and rode a tackle before hitting a blistering diagonal drive across the box whose pace convinced the Greeks to let it run out, only for them to watch a sprinting Robinho stretch out a foot to sneak it in at the far post to make it 2-0.
On sixty-six minutes Ronaldinho seemed all set to make it three when his free kick cleared the wall but Nikopolidis dived to smother the ball, gathering it at the second attempt.
As if to pique Greece yet further, Carlos Alberto Parreira withdrew Adriano, Ronaldinho and Kaka with around a quarter of an hour still to play but the night’s Greek tragedy had a final act to be performed.
On eighty-one minutes Juninho Pernambuca reminded us of Zico and other Brazilians’ free-kick heritage by etching a perfect arc in the air as his set-piece flew millimetres inside the post and into the goal. The unfortunate Nikopolidis stood frozen again, a monument to the defeated as his net billowed behind him.
With the final whistle the Greeks at last got some respite whilst Parreira beamed at a job well and truly done. What he may already know and the rest of us are soon to discover is that there is already a name etched on the trophy next summer in Germany.