‘The Cup is ours! The ref is ours! Even the Croatian goal is ours!’

Brazilians agree they had good fortune, and a referee, on their side against Croatia

Brazilian fans in a beach restaurant in Porto Seguro celebrate Oscar’s third goal against Croatia. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

Brazilian fans in a beach restaurant in Porto Seguro celebrate Oscar’s third goal against Croatia. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

 

It was ‘A Hard-Fought Victory’ according to Estado de S Paulo. ‘A Painful Victory’ in the opinion of O Globo. ‘On the Whistle, On the Ball’ said Folha de S Paulo, in that order. It is fair to say Brazil’s press were not fooled by their team’s 3-1 score-line over Croatia in their World Cup opener on Thursday night.

‘Neymar, Oscar and a Japanese man guarantee Brazil’s victory,’ admitted Agora as all the newspapers focused on the controversial performance of referee Yuichi Nishimura. ‘Arigato!’ shouted O Globo. “A deserved victory but the Japanese ref sees a non-existent penalty on Fred, fails to mark a foul by Rameires in the build-up to Oscar’s goal and the seleção beat Croatia 3-1, coming from behind on their debut.”

“It’s All Ours!’ screamed the headline of sports daily Lance! “Victory is ours! Neymar is ours! The Cup is ours! The ref is ours! Even the Croatian goal is ours!”

Folha’s much respected columnist Juca Kfouri had no doubts about the ref’s error writing he “fell for Fred, who theatrically collapsed after being lightly touched in the area”.

“The Japanese referee was influenced by the favourable atmosphere for Brazil and - who knows - with a lapse, when distracted, with an intercontinental mistake, spotted a penalty in the cinematic fall of Fred,” speculated Antero Greco in Estado.

Not that there were no positive to take from the match. Neymar - amazingly the first Brazilian No. 10 to score in a World Cup since Rivaldo in 2002 - was as ever the centre of attention thanks to his insatiable hunger for the ball and a cracking first goal which “took a tonne of pressure off Felipão’s charges” in the view of Maurício Oliveira in Lance!

But despite praise for the team’s star the paper made Oscar its man of the match and the Chelsea player won widespread praise for his performance. He had been criticised after Brazil’s warn-up games and there was the beginnings of a bandwagon to have he dropped in favour of his club teammate Willian but now he “returns to the squad’s base showing he is one of the starting eleven” according to Mauro Beting.

“Felipão trusts him because he is a tactical player. He was champion at breaking up the opposition’s moves and also setting up Brazil’s,” wrote Brazil’s Mr Tactics Paulo Vinícius Coelho in Folha.

In looking for the reasons for Brazil’s sputtering start PVC identified the largely anonymous performance Tottenham’s Paulinho, who before his move to the London club was one of Brazil’s main dynamos. “Paulinho needs to find the right spaces so there always exists triangles, two options for the pass,” he wrote. “When Thiago Silva receives he needs to have Daniel Alves and Paulinho as options. But it is not always the case.”

And for Croatians there was the comfort of predictions they would escape the group along with Brazil. “What matters, more than the bad referring, even more than the victory, was the attitude of the two teams, certainly the best in the group and probably the two to go through to the second round,” wrote Juca Kfouri.

Such an outcome might soothe some of the Croatians’ anger at a certain Japanese referee “who showed himself to be a proud Brazilian”.

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