Underdogs Add Spice to Semifinals

PASADENA, California -- Brazil's fire and passion will carry it to its rightful place in a World Cup final for the first time in 24 years if it can avoid catching a Swedish chill Wednesday.


Sweden's ice-cool tactics dowsed the Brazilian flames in a first round match two weeks ago and the Scandinavians are confident they can do even better than the 1-1 draw they got in Detroit.


Sweden is the only team to have held Brazil at the U.S. finals but the South Americans' coach Carlos Alberto Parreira poured scorn on its prospects of a repeat.


"The last game was nothing more than friendly," he snapped. "There was nothing at stake. This time we will be playing for a place in the World Cup final. We will be more adventurous."


Brazil, it is true, had already qualified for the second round when the first game was played but their forwards looked inept against the well-drilled Swedish defense and the Scandinavians have improved during the finals.


"Sweden marks well and is very dangerous in the air," Parreira conceded.


It will come down to a contest between Brazilian individualism and Swedish teamwork and Parreira knows he has the stars who can make the difference.


Brazil lacks the cohesive, fluid style of great sides of the past, such as Pele's 1970 World Cup-winning team.


But if it is missing the creative midfield, it is by no means short of individual flair, and strikers Romario and Bebeto have shown they can decide matches single-handedly.


Swedish coach Tommy Svensson knows these are the two he must control if his team is to reach its first World Cup final since 1958 when it lost, as host, 5-2 to Brazil of all people.


Unlike Parreira, Svensson believes the first meeting between the two last month did mean something.


"It was psychologically important for us to play against them," he said. "We know we can score against them and we know we can stop them."