'Japan's progress should be applauded.'
Analysis by Francisco Maturana
Just when it seemed like Brazil were going to put on a footballing display, with fireworks included, it ended up more like a damp squib for Carlos Alberto Parreira's charges. In the first half his team showed flashes of brilliance, with Ronaldinho at his irrepressible best, pulling out all the tricks in his extensive repertoire. It helped that Japan did not set their stall out to defend, leaving gaps at the back which were gleefully exploited by the fleet-footed Brazilian stars. The 2-1 lead they took to the dressing room at half-time was therefore no surprise to those in attendance.
The second half was a totally different story. Shunsuke Nakamura led by example, driving his team-mates on and constantly voicing his encouragement. Ably assisted by Hidetoshi Nakata and Akira Kaji, Nakamura and Co suddenly seemed to realise that games are not decided on reputation alone. Their players forgot about their opponents' illustrious past and put in a very solid second 45 minutes, once again highlighting just how much the Brazilians struggle when they lose control of the ball.
Despite not winning the game, Zico must be pleased with the way the tournament has gone for his side. Japan have showed that, on top of being great athletes, they know how to play football. They are a team headed in the right direction.