Brazil is now the clear favorite to win the World Cup after South Korea’s superb defeat

Brazil is now the clear favorite to win the World Cup after South Korea's superb defeat

There is no better sight in football (if you are not from Argentina) than Brazil in full flight.

Their 4-1 thrashing South Korea’s performance in the Global Cup’s round of 16 was both stunning and harsh, serving as a timely reminder that they are prepared to break a 20-year wait to win the world championship once again.

In many aspects, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has defied the pattern of creating a clear favorite to win the championship during the group stage. All of the favorites shone at moments and stalled at others.

France was defeated by Tunisia, Argentina by Saudi Arabia, Brazil by Cameroon, Portugal by South Korea, and Spain by Japan. Meanwhile, England and the Netherlands produced lackluster and turgid draws in the middle of their group campaigns. Germany and Belgium have already returned home.

Nothing would have changed there if Brazil hadn’t defeated South Korea in the round of 16. In actuality, it would hardly have made a difference. However, the method in which they did it has.

Suddenly, there is a favorite, and a clear marker has been set. It’s no longer ‘anyone’s tournament to win’ – Brazil’s to lose.

Of course, one might argue that South Korea aided them to some degree. For some strange reason, coach Paulo Bento, possibly assuming he was back in charge of Portugal with peak Cristiano Ronaldo, believed his team could compete with Brazil.

With the wing-backs pushed forward and the left four vs. four at the back, they set themselves up for an assault. It’s probably not the ideal approach against any opponent at this level or stage of a World Cup, but it’s doubly foolish when the four you’re up against are the most talented offensive players of a Brazilian generation.

Having the space to do it and executing it are two very different things, and what Brazil produced on the night was terrible. They led 4-0 at halftime, an understatement of their domination.

South Korea entered the game knowing they were massive underdogs. Nobody, least of all them, would have been astonished if Brazil had breached its defenses. What would have hurt was how they slashed the South Korean spirit with a knife to the soul – the type that only Brazilians can give.

Vinicius Junior’s clipped arrow into the top corner one minute, lightning fast one-touch passing the next, scooped pass and one-touch volleyed finish the next. A declaration of might carried the soul-crushing message: ‘You are nothing near our level.’

The issue is whether any of the other heavily favored clubs in the tournament can equal that level. A performance like that will not go ignored by opponents, nor will the fact that, even with a 4-0 lead, Brazil was hurling people in the path of shots in a bid to defend the clean sheet of the world-class goalkeeper behind them.

While the flicks, tricks, scoops, and samba celebrations gave the flair, the content was that furiously determined strength.

Brazil will face Croatia next, which will undoubtedly be a more difficult challenge. Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, and the company will be able to ask some interesting questions.

In general, when Brazil shows up to a World Cup with a group like this and starts playing like this, it’s difficult to stop them. The remainder will be more aware of it than the majority.