By Rashmi Goel

Brazil reached its eighth consecutive quarterfinal with a 4-1 win over South Korea, confirming its status as World Cup favorites. In the first half, Brazil scored four goals within 29 minutes, which led to the Taeguk Warriors being disqualified. Brazil's victory over an outmatched South Korean squad in the round of 16 was played in such a casual manner that it had no trouble showing off its joy. With so much Premier League experience, there was no other player as influential as Neymar, who got valuable minutes after injury struggles earlier in the season. This was one of the best first halves in modern football history.

Raphinha's superb skill contributed to the first goal. The Barcelona winger showed fine control before squaring it to Vinicius Jr. Richarlison was downed in the box moments later by Kim Moon-hwan. Taking the spot kick, Neymar reached Pele's record of 76 goals for the Selecao. With a moment of brilliant seal-dribbling, Richarlison had a further impact. With a visionary through-ball, Casemiro proved himself an adept creator for Manchester United. Finishing off the half was Lucas Paqueta. With a superb chipped cross, Vinicius Jr sent the West Ham man through for a confident first-time finish. This was a savage, ruthless first half.

It may be difficult to believe, but Son Heung-min does not give up easily, despite being very much at the receiving end. He attempted an individual shot early in the second half, which was only denied by his shoulder of Alisson. Kim also made an important save to deny Raphinha from close range. There was little resistance to Brazil's front-to-back move. The impudent flick by Casemiro to Neymar was set into Raphinha's path, but the ex-Leeds United player didn't score. The living legend Dani Alves 39 took the place of Eder Militao. It was true that Tite's decision appeared to be a crowd-pleasing one, but it was also practical due to Militao's yellow card.

Even if it was just a consolation goal, South Korea still worked hard. Stunning save from Alisson by Hwang. Then Son's follow-up shot was blocked by Marquinhos. This Brazil team's brilliance is partly because they're so passionate about everything they do. South Korea certainly had heart. Paik Seung-Ho controlled the free kick and slammed it into the Brazilian net after Casemiro nodded it clearly. The strike was superb, even if it needed a slight deflection to get past Alisson. In a move that has left the Barcelona fans belatedly cheering, the former academy player displayed technique straight from La Masia to provide one final cheer for the team.

With 10 minutes left, Brazil brought on third-choice keeper Weverton, which said everything about their dominance. The Palmeiras custodian, who hasn't played a minute yet, was beaming as he ran onto the pitch. Brazilian teams have been blighted by egos and interpersonal conflict before. Kylian Mbappe, France's prodigious star, is being touted as a potential winner because of his credentials as a holder and as the country that produced him. Despite coming into Qatar at a low ebb, England has surprised a few. There's a history between Spain and the Netherlands. Portugal has Ronaldo, and Argentina has Messi. No one has the combination of peaking players, mesmerizing talent, and world-class pedigree that Brazil has. Other than the Selecao, someone else will have to beat them to win this tournament. In the end, they dedicated the win to the legendary Pele for his quick recovery.

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