Long, long ago, Brazil used to represent fantasy football. Now - everywere but in the minds of commentators, still clogged with mouldering images of 1970 - Brazil are international football's equivalent of the reality principle. Their victories are as inevitable as they are joyless, pulverising not only their opponents but any sense of drama and romance like flowers under the wheels of a tank. This is not a team that has tempered flair with organisation; it is a team whose success is entirely almost based on athleticism and positional discipline. There was a suffocating flatness about Brazil's destruction of Chile tonight; it was if Brazil's remorselessy effective defence - by some distance the most miserly in the competition, protected by a steely shield of two holding midfielders - had drawn the very oxygen from the air.
Brazil are the Terminator of the World Cup. "There is no fate," was the slogan of the latest Terminator film, but Brazil's success in this World Cup seems fated, the script written by their corporate sponsors, Nike, with teams like Chile tonight reduced to the role of background drones in the tediously slick CGI-driven commercials. It feels like Brazil have already won the World Cup, and that anything else will be a triumph for surprise over grim inevitability. That inevitability feels even more fated when you remember that no European teams have won outside Europe, and that Brazil have won all but two of the tournaments held outside Europe since 1958, including both of the tournaments that were hosted outside Europe and South America. Who, if anyone, can stop the inevitable from happening, and restore some sense of surprise and romance to the World Cup?