Brazil eager to get World Cup under way

Published Jun. 13, 2010 12:12 p.m. ET

Brazil's players are having a hard time waiting for their turn at the World Cup.

The opener against North Korea isn't until Tuesday, and the Brazilians are eager to get on the pitch.

"We know we are ready," Brazil left back Michel Bastos said Saturday. "If the match was today or tomorrow, we would be prepared. We've been preparing for a long time for this."

Seeking its sixth world title, Brazil was one of the first teams to arrive in South Africa and has been practicing in the country for more than two weeks. The team will open against North Korea at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

"We have to admit there is a lot of anxiety, and it's growing," Brazil midfielder Felipe Melo said. "I wish we could have played yesterday."

Brazil is one of the favorites to win the first World Cup in Africa after impressive results with coach Dunga, despite lacking players such as Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Adriano. Brazil won the Confederations Cup last year and finished first in South American World Cup qualifying. It also did well in high-profile friendlies against England, Italy, Portugal and Argentina.

"The team is ready, but there is still some time left so we can adjust whatever may be needed to adjust," Michel Bastos said. "There may be a few things here and there, but we know we are prepared."


Dunga closed Saturday's afternoon practice, marking only the second time the coach kept the media from attending training sessions.

The Brazilian confederation denied reports that practice was closed because local media filmed players in the earlier closed session.

The confederation also said the closure was not a retaliation for stories in Brazilian media saying Daniel Alves and Julio Baptista had an altercation in Friday's practice. The players complained to each other after a harsh ball dispute, but quickly went their separate ways without any apparent problem.

Felipe Melo called reporting of the incident by the media "ridiculous."

Brazil played only two warmup matches after arriving in South Africa, picking lowly teams from the region. It defeated 110th-ranked Zimbabwe 3-0 in Harare, and routed 108th-ranked Tanzania 5-1 in Dar es Salaam.

Dunga hasn't announced Brazil's starting lineup for the match against North Korea, but he has practiced with the same 11 players since the team arrived in South Africa. There shouldn't be any surprises for the opener.

Brazil will then face Ivory Coast on June 20, also in Johannesburg, and will close play in the tough Group G against Portugal on June 25 in Durban.

The Brazilians acknowledge knowing very little about the North Koreans.

"It's hard to find anything about them," Felipe Melo said. "But I'm sure the coaches are already preparing a video on them for us."

With the World Cup under way, at least players are having an easier time overcoming their nerves.

"We are doing whatever we can to help the time pass," Michel Bastos said. "Now we can at least watch some of the matches. It helps."