Brazil, inspired by fanatical home support and the Confederations Cup's outstanding individual, defeated Italy 4-2 on Saturday.
The result sticks out like a sore Italian thumb.
It is nearly seven years since Italy became world champion for a fourth time. Since lifting the World Cup in 2006, the Azzurri has only twice conceded four goals in a competitive international. The Tifosi would rather not be reminded about the Final of Euro2012 in which their heroes were humbled 4-0 by Spain.
Now Brazil, inspired by fanatical home support and the Confederations Cup's outstanding individual, has also torn the lock off the back door with a 4-2 victory Saturday. Italy advances, nonetheless, but after leaking seven goals in the last two games, the alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear.
You could argue there were mitigating circumstances and, to an extent, you'd be right. Without the influence and authority of Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi, Italy was overrun in midfield. Both will probably be back to face their semfinal opponent - likely Spain - next week, but both were also on the field when Japan threatened a major upset in Recife, Brazil.
Any questions marks over Luiz Felipe Scolari's selection policy have been answered. The Brazilian coach's decision to omit Kaka and Ronaldinho, among other veterans, raised more than a few eyebrows. His new breed of 20-somethings have proven themselves technically and mentally up to the task. The old guard are almost certainly surplus to requirements.
Neymar justifies hype
We've been hearing about Neymar for a couple of years. In the space of a week, the 21-year-old has shown us the hype is justified. After scoring from open plays against Japan and Mexico, he began his bag of tricks a little wider against Italy. Pirlo, himself, would have been proud of the brilliant free kick which turned the game decisively in Brazil's favour.
The Brazilian swagger we know and love appears to be back. The flair and spontaneity I wrote about before the tournament has returned to delight the home fans. Brazil wrote the book on the 'beautiful game' and its approach is admired by soccer fans around the world -- including this one.
Brazil does what is expected. The philosophy is simple. Score plenty at one end, and try to keep the flimsy latch on the back gate. It is never going to win any awards for the standard of its defending -- that's just not the Brazilian way. But with five World Cup and three Confederations Cup titles under its belt, who's to argue Brazil must tighten up at the back?
In a world of "false number 9s" where the world's best team doesn't employ an out-and-out striker, Brazil has more than it knows what to do with. Neymar is the undoubted star of the show but with Fred and Hulk offering different offensive qualities, Brazil is beginning to look irresistible, particularly on home soil.
It will take a mighty good team to stop them -- like Spain, for example. If Brazil doesn't meet the World Cup holders in the Confederations Cup Final next weekend it will be a major surprise. The Spaniards have hardly been tested so far and should match Brazil with a clean slate of victories against Nigeria to wrap up Group B.
The African champions know they are on a slippery slope. Nigeria led the standings following their opening win over Tahiti, then dropped to second after the loss to Uruguay. When the round-robin matches concludes, the Super Eagles will likely finish third in the group allowing the South Americans to join Spain in the final four.
If so Uruguay will face the unenviable task of taking on Brazil. Forlan, Suarez and Cavani could certainly hurt the hosts in what may well turn out to be an uncompromising battle. Uruguay is fiercely proud of upstaging its giant neighbour both at the 2010 World Cup and 2011 Copa America, but knocking the hosts out of their own tournament, albeit a World Cup warmup, might just top the lot.
Spain against Italy would be a rerun of the 2012 European Championship massacre. It wasn't close in Kiev last summer, and it might not be much closer in Fortaleza.