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Brazil Kick off World Cup Campaign against Mysterious North Korea

Dunga’s Brazil will begin their push for a sixth World Cup title in Johannesburg, on Tuesday the 15th of June against minnows North Korea.

Labelled the overwhelming favourites prior to the match, Brazil will be expected to win by a sizable margin, as this is the first World Cup which North Korea will be attending since 1966, where they reached the quarter-finals.

After topping their South American qualifying group, Brazil are among the favourites to lift the trophy in Johannesburg. Dunga’s side boasts quality throughout the squad, ranging from world-class goalkeeper Julio Cesar to the clinical Luis Fabiano.

Can Robinho’s magic inspire Brazil to a sixth title?

 

Brazil’s pre-tournament friendlies have gone well, starting with a convincing 3-0 win over Zimbabwe, and has since been followed up with an equally dominant 5-1 victory over Tanzania.

North Korea, on the other hand, are an enigma, as very little is known about them at all. They do however have a young side that is full of energy, and as this is the biggest occasion of any of the player’s career, they are sure to be extremely motivated to show the world that they are no pushovers.

The North Korean fans may not have much to cheer about in South Africa

 

This has been shown by the Koreans in their pre-tournament friendlies, which began with a hard-fought 0-0 draw against the hosts South Africa. This was followed up with a very close 1-0 loss to Paraguay, who won courtesy of a late Roque Santa Cruz penalty. Despite the slightly fortuitous nature of this victory, Paraguay out classed Korea and deserved their win. Their final warm up game, a 3-1 loss to Nigeria, was marred by stampeding outside the stadium prior to the game in which 20 people were injured and taken to hospital. North Korea were impressive however in a 2-2 draw with 2004 European Champions Greece.

These warm up matches did show us the main focus of Korea’s tactics, which rely on defensive solidity. They play with a flat back four, two midfielders protecting this defence, as well as an additional sweeper behind the defence covering. For attacks, they will look to counterattack at pace. They will make little attempt to come and play against Brazil.

Their star player could be said to be Jong Tae-se, has been described as the North Korean Wayne Rooney due to his physicality and bulldog like approach to the game, and he is coming in to form at the right time as he scored both Korea goals in the aforementioned draw with Greece.

Jong Tae-se – the North Korean Rooney

 

This will be the first time that Brazil will have faced North Korea. North Korea is a very closed communist country (their Government announced that the World Cup will be censored, and only images favourable to the country will be aired – which means that it is likely that the Cup will not exist for Korean citizens), and very seldom performs in non-official matches.

Coincidentally, Brazil is one of the countries in the world which best knows the football in North Korea. There is a team, currently disputing the Second Division in Sao Paulo, called Clube Atletico Sorocaba; in 2000, Atletico Sorocaba was purchased by Reverend Moon, a controversial religious leader born in Korea. Thanks to these connections, Atletico Sorocaba played a friendly match against the North Korea national team in November of 2009, which finished 0-0.

In only World Cup in which North Korea competed, Korea lost to Soviet Union, tied with Chile, but got through the group stage by causing one of the great World Cup shocks by beating giants Italy. In the quarter-finals, Korea lost to Portugal 5-3, after having been 3-0 up.

North Korea’s victory over Italy in 1966 was one of the World Cup’s greatest upsets.

 

Dunga said in an interview that North Korea shall be a cause for concern due to the fact that so little is known of them. Besides the surprising role in England 1966, Korea also surprised the world by winning Iran and Saudi Arabia in the Qualifying, and by winning recent FIFA World Cup for Young Women.

Despite this interview, Dunga and the rest of the world will be expecting an emphatic victory against this unknown entity, as much stiffer opposition in the shape of the Ivory Coast and Portugal follows this encounter.

 

Prediction: North Korea show plenty of spirit and frustrate Brazil to begin with, but are eventually broken down and the flood gates open. Brazil 3-0 North Korea.

 

Brazil Line-Up (possible, 4-2-2-2)

Julio Cesar; Maicon, Lucio, Juan, Michel Bastos; Gilberto Silva, Felipe Melo; Elano, Kaka; Robinho, Luis Fabiano

North Korea Line-Up (possible, 5-3-2)

Kim Myong Gil; Cha Jong Hyok, Ri Jun Il, Ri Kwang Chon, Pak Chol Jin, Nam Song Chol; An Yong Hak, Kim Yong Jun, Mun In Guk; Hong Yong Jo, Jong Tae Se

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