Japan proved organization can absolutely smother Brazil’s offensive weapons when they handed Brazil a 2-0 loss at Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium. Brazil had the momentum early in the match, but when Japan’s Ogimi put one past a hesitant Andreia in the 26th minute, Brazil never fully recovered.
Norio Sasaki’s plan against South Africa payed the exact dividends he hoped for, with Japan looking capable and dangerous for most of the game. With no travel between this game and the last, and seven starters heavily rested, they were able to dig in and prevent Marta, Cristiane, Renata Costa, and the rest of Brazil’s dangerous scorers from getting good chances on goal. Miho Fukumoto was forced to come up with a few good saves, most notably one in the 20th minute on a high powerful shot from Formiga.
On the other hand, Brazil alternated between looking listless and frustrated. Marta exploded at the referee when she was booked for a yellow on a challenge on Mizuho Sakaguchi, but it was only the final nail in an underwhelming tournament for Marta. It wasn’t the only yellow card issued to Brazil before the match ended, with Bruna easily earning her own card for a challenge she didn’t even bother pretending was an attempt for the ball.
This match should call into question the support for the Brazilian team in their own country, and with good reason. It’s one thing to have to compete against the best teams in the world, but Brazil is also competing for attention and resources, and one has to wonder how much it has affected their performance in these Olympic games. With this performance, their support could drop even further, despite the fact that Brazil will host the next Summer Olympics.
Shinobu Ohno put the game away for Japan in the 73rd minute with a chipped shot over Andreia, and Brazil never had much in the way of attempts on goal in the remaining moments of the game, partially due to the Japanese’s ability to block shots in defense.
Japan will have to go through France if they want a chance at the gold medal and will be seeking revenge for the pre-Olympics friendly where France embarrassed them 2-0. They also lose the advantages of staying in Cardiff and the rest of their starting side. Both teams are looking solid as they head into the semifinals, and it should be an exciting match on Monday.
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