The soccer gods are shaking their heads at Brazil and Italy after a first half filled with injuries, hard fouls and very little entertaining play.
The opening 15 minutes were ugly, to say the least. Brazil had the better chances, and Hulk forced Gianluigi Buffon to make an excellent save early, but the early rush was due to Italy being incredibly sloppy at the start. Once they calmed down a bit, the game turned into the ugly clashing of styles we expected, as Brazil tried to dance around Italy and the Azzurri were happy to knock them on their butts.
When Italy finally got some time on the ball, Brazil did their best to kick them in the legs and knock them on their butts, as well.
Things really didn't get any better.
Neymar got tired of being tackled over and over again and flew in late on Ignazio Abate in the 28th minute. Neymar was shown a yellow card for clipping Abate's boot, but the defender got the worse of things, appearing to dislocate his shoulder as he landed awkwardly. It forced an immediate substitution from Cesare Prandelli, who brought in Christian Maggio.
Brazil joined the injury parade in the 33rd minute when David Luiz, who'd taken a knock on his right thigh earlier, was unable to continue and was replaced by Dante.
Just when it looked like we'd reach the break scoreless, Dante was able to redirect a save by Buffon into the back of the net, giving Brazil a 1-0 lead nearly two minutes into stoppage time. Fred's initial header started the trouble as Buffon made a fine save, parrying the ball out left where Mattia De Sciglio had fallen asleep and let Dante jump onto the loose ball.
It was a deserved goal for Brazil, but the fact remains it was an ugly half of soccer.
Here is the single best thing about the first half:
I'm guessing he's not a Liverpool fan, or we all know he'd have an aversion to balloons.
Italy has a ton of work to do now if they hope to avoid Spain in the semifinal.