The Unknown-Brazil Vs. North Korea

The Unknown-Brazil Vs. North Korea

There are many unknowns in life. What will happen today? What tomorrow may bring? Where are we going? What are we doing? Where will we be in 1 year from now, 3 years and 5 years. No one knows. The best laid plans can also be ones achilles heals and hold up ones development.

Tonight we have one of those unknowns. Brazil Vs. North Korea. Not exactly a World Cup classic match, but one that may be very very intriguing.

Brazil, one of the sports super powers is playing in the so called group of death facing not only the aforementioned North Korea, but also Portugal & Ivory Coast in their bid to advance to the second round.

Brazil is a squad brimming with all stars, no question about it. From Kaka on down this team is stocked. So stocked Brazil is that it didn’t even bother inviting veteran Ronaldinho and up and coming Pato to the big party, both who will be somewhere watching on TV.

Brazil is confident but not overly so. They are in prime shape, they are shifty, they are intelligent and they are experienced. The same is true with Portugal and even the Ivory Coast a team that I had the opportunity to see live in Tel Aviv last year Vs. the Israel National team in a friendly encounter.

The question that remains is, what do we know about North Korea. Well not much.

North Korea, part of the axis of evil has largely been out of the Football spotlight and has only participated in one World Cup, way back in England 1966.

That tournament saw the North Koreans beat Italy, drew against Chile and lost to the USSR 3-0 and Portugal 5-3. In the Portugal game it should be noted that North Korea was up 3-0! And only for Eusebio’s 4 goals did the Portugese go through to face England. Had North Korea hung on to win they would have faced the Brits in a game that could have changed the face of the 1966 World Cup, but we’ll never know.

Since 1966 not much has been heard from this squad. In order to qualify they played the likes of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordan, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Turkmenistan and Mongolia. And it was only in the games in Round One Vs. Mongolia did they score more than two goals in a game. Otherwise all of the other matches were close affairs with plenty of draws.

This tells me a couple of things. 1) The team knows how to play defense. It gave up no more than 2 goals in a game and only did that once to Iran. Not even South Korea in 4 games could score more than one goal against the North Koreans. 2) In the 4 games Vs. South Korea, there were three draws, two 0-0 and one 1-1 as well as one 1-0 victory by the South Koreans. This shows that North Korea can play against a good offensive team like their counterparts in the south since the South Koreans beat Greece handily 2-0 already in this World Cup.

Can they score? Well that remains to be seen. Defense they can play. That might be a very interesting fact that some are overlooking as they head into their game against Brazil. Don’t underestimate a foe that one does not know much about.

This is something that happened to Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series Vs. the USSR. Team Canada thought they would blow through the Soviets and came out flying scoring a quick goal in the first game, but their unknown opposition had the last laugh in game one where they went on to crush the Canadians 7-3.

Game two saw Canada right the ship with a 4-1 victory, but after a game three tie the USSR took the next two game sand led the best of 8 game series 3-1-1 with the last three games being played in the Soviet Union.

In order for Canada to save face they would have to be victorious on foreign soil three straight games. And low and behold they were with Paul Henderson scoring the game winners in both Game Seven and Game Eight!

Canada took the series 4-3-1, but had they not underestimated the unknown and taken their competition a little more seriously from the outset, they would never have been put in the situation that they were in.

And Brazil should take a look at that series and learn a little history. One should not underestimate their opponent especially one that they do not know much about. Perhaps they should give Paul Henderson a call, or even the Greeks.

Thoughts from the Pulpit

1)      The Sports Rabbi watched the Italy Vs. Paraguay match last night and saw a South American team dominate most of the way Vs. an Italian team that looked disorganized, slow and at many times uninterested in their defense of the World Cup crown. Something was missing. Was it the leadership? Perhaps. I really have to take Marceloo Lippi to task for not starting Gennaro Gattuso in this match. Other than the first quarter hour of the match the Italians lacked pace and mid field service to their strikers. Antonio Di Natale also should have been in the starting lineup as well as Mauro Camoranesi. Once they came on the complexion of the Italian attack changed and they had a few more chances but the Paraguayan defense held their ground and took a point.

2)      The NBA finals continues with game 6 tonight in Los Angeles. All of the Lakers fans should hope that Phil and Kobe have a game plan to win or else they’ll be watching the Celtics celebrate their 18th Championship on the Lakers home court. Not a pleasant thought. I can’t believe that The Lakers will allow Boston to walk into their house and take care of business. It should be a great game!

3)      Stephen Strasburg, All Star? This has been the recent talk. Is it possible that a pitcher coming up so late in the year has a chance to make it to the Summer Classic? I certainly wouldn’t bet against it and Baseball can use all the boost that they can get from one Strasburg. So if he deserves it, or even if he is close, then let him on board, why not. If it’s good for the game then it’s good for the Sports Rabbi!

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