Only 1-0 up and six minutes into the second half in Turku, Brazil were coming under heavy pressure from Freddy Adu and his American mates. And just as it looked like the South Americans were about to concede a crucial equaliser, brilliant midfielder Ederson collected the ball on the left side of the box, stepped over once, twice, and a third time before picking up his head and chipping delicately over Phil Marfuggi to sink the States. After the match, the sumptuously skilful creator sat down with FIFA.com to discuss Brazilian football, the upcoming semi-final with Colombia and the responsibility of wearing the number 10 for Brazil.
“We began to move up the field quickly and against the run of play,” he said recalling the goal that put the quarter-final beyond doubt. “The U.S. were really putting a lot of pressure on us…I controlled the ball, made a couple of moves on the defender and I got lucky to hit it exactly the way I needed to, with just enough pressure to put it over the goalkeeper’s head.”
With a smile spreading across his lips, the handsome young number 10 added, “This is by far the prettiest goal I have scored in the Brazil shirt.”
When asked about the pressures of wearing the fabled number ten for Brazil, the youngster seemed unfazed.
“I have worn the shirt for some time now – through all the South American qualifiers,” shrugged the player who idolises famous number 9 Ronaldo. “So I do not feel too much pressure with the shirt on my back. But I take the great responsibility very seriously.”
Ederson was in the team that lost 0-1 to Colombia in the second round of the South American qualifiers, and he makes his motivations for the upcoming semi-final against the Cafeteros clear as day.
“Of course we would like to take revenge on Colombia because they beat us in the South American qualifying tournament,” he said with the smile suddenly disappearing from his lips. “But more importantly we need to beat them in order to make it to the final – and achieve our ultimate goal. So we have two reasons to be up for the match.”
When asked about the joy that seems to pervade the Brazilian squad, Ederson’s face lights up once more.
“Our technique is much different than anyone else’s,” he says. “Our style of play makes a big difference. No one plays football the way we do in Brazil.”
“The coach always tells us to be happy, play good football, and enjoy ourselves. We must have great determination, but football must also be something to enjoy. Being happy with your team and with the game is very important.”
Returning to their home base of Tampere and up against a Colombian team that have yet to play a match off the artificial turf of Helsinki’s Töölö stadium, Ederson fired a warning.
“We just want to win. All the time we want to win. There is a tremendous responsibility to have success when you wear the Brazilian shirt. Every time we play, we try to get better and improve. Being one of the last four teams at a world championship is not an easy thing to do. We are proud of what we have done here…and we want to continue.”
Underdogs Colombia play with their whole heart
Colombia will surely be no pushover for silky Ederson and his Auriverde. Back on 14 May, the Cafeteros managed to blank Brazil on the strength of a Fredy Guarin solo blast in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. “Brazil are one of the best teams in the world and have some great players,” said Colombia’s number 10 Sebastian Hernandez of Mexican club side Atlas.
“As a nation we have never come so far in a world championship so it is wonderful for all of Colombia,” said head coach Eduardo Lara after the comprehensive 2-0 quarter-final win over Central American outsiders Costa Rica.
In four matches the Colombians have scored an impressive 13 goals. With a stingy defence and a special knack for slowing the pace of the game down and keeping possession, the South Americans will be more than a handful for Brazil.
Brazil boss Paqueta knows the dangers better than anyone. “Colombia is a very strong team,” he said. “We will be motivated for a win though. Obviously we must beat them, but also because they beat us in the qualifying tournament.”
“We will keep on dreaming about the championship, which we came here to win…we are among the top four sides in the world and we want to go even farther.”
“We have humility and respect…we give all our heart and play for the Colombian shirt above all, said defender Harrison Morales. “Just like the coach (Lara) tells us, we give everything and we will make life difficult for any side we face.”