Brazil 2 Team GB 0
Brazil dispatched Team GB with casual ease following goals from Sandro and Neymar. Here’s a few quick, unorganized thoughts about the match. Apologies if there are errors – I don’t have time to proofread.
Brazil were almost never troubled in this match. The only two times that Great Britain made any inroads at all were in the first 10 minutes of the 1st half and first 10 of the 2nd. Other than, it was all Brazil.
The pattern of the game pretty much fit how the recent spate of friendlies went. Brazil dominated possession through the first half, pressing aggressively and denying GB the chance to do anything meaningful with the ball. In the 2nd half, Brazil’s pressing slacked off almost completely, with the three forwards all standing off and the three midfielders all dropping deep behind the ball. As expected, the tempo of the game slowed down considerably after that, until Mano threw in a wave of substitutes, with Pato, Lucas and Ganso all coming on. Brazil finished strongly, testing the GB keeper several times thanks to their fresh legs going up against Britain’s tired ones.
It was a solid game from Brazil but not a terribly interesting one. There really wasn’t anything new here – Brazil continue to display more fluidity in the midfield with this lineup then they ever did in 2010-11. The only tactical thing of note was that Mano again went away from his stock 4-2-3-1. This was more like an extremely staggered 4-3-1-2, or maybe a staggered 4-3-3 depending on how you look at it. Here were the average positions on the pitch as best I could determine:
One aspect of this formation, whatever you want to call it, is that Hulk and Neymar, when the latter moved out to the wings, almost completely reversed from their customary positions. Hulk spent the vast majority of the 1st half on the left wing, with Neymar either in the center or moving out to the right. They reverted a bit in the 2nd half, but it wasn’t until Lucas came on that Neymar finally began spending significant amounts of time on the left.
The most interesting aspect, however, is that Brazil began to look a bit more like Carlos Alberto Parreira’s Brazil circa 1994 than anything else, just as they had against Argentina. There was a far greater emphasis on winning the ball in the midfield, and then breaking at speed, getting the ball into the hands of your fastest dribblers or sending it over the top. Parreira’s Brazil were masters at this. Mano’s Brazil isn’t currently on the same level – the spacing on the break between the attacking player just isn’t as good, and Neymar, Damiao and Hulk have all been guilty of some pretty appalling finishing of late, while Romario and Bebeto were stone-cold assassins in the penalty box.
Now, it’s important to remember that putting greater emphasis on the counter attack, or looking the most threatening on the counter, does NOT mean you are a “counter-attacking team” per se. After all, what is often not remembered is that Parreira’s Brazil usually dominated possession, as has Mano’s Brazil over the past 10 months. Even Dunga’s squad, for all their reputation, kept possession of the ball better than is usually remembered. Furthermore, even in the Ronaldo years, the team created more chances on the break than when building up the attack slowly. I actually prefer the term “break” instead of counter, because often times what we call a counter-attack isn’t really a counter-attack at all. That implies that it comes immediately after the opposing team’s attack, but often what really happens is merely that Brazil will win the ball in their own half. There’s a difference between “possession” and “attack” in that not all possession means the team is attacking. So winning the ball off the team that possesses it does not necessarily mean you’ve just stopped an attack.
But I digress.
While pundits may claim it’s anti Brazilian, attacking on the break is something that makes perfect sense for the Selecao, because it affords our best players the ingredients they need to shine. Look over our roster of players over the past 30 years. Ronaldo, Zico, Romario, Bebeto, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Neymar. What did they all have in common? With the exception of Rivaldo, each were lightning fast dribblers who excelled in 1v1 situations. Attacking on the break gives our best players time, space, and defensive vulnerabilities to exploit.
Now, I’m not saying I want Brazil to make this the core of their game. But remember: for a good two years, Mano’s Brazil almost NEVER attacked off the break. It was like Mano was so preoccupied with separating himself from Dunga that he instructed his team to always play slow and build from the center of the pitch. So it’s nice to see the team add another dimension to their play.
The reason why this squad can break a bit more is partly due to their aggressive pressing (in the first half, anyway) but also due to the fact that in Oscar, you have a player who can quickly and accurately pass the ball, and in Neymar and Hulk you have two of the fastest players in the world at running with the ball. Again, work needs to be done here, with the aforementioned movement off the ball, but it’s getting better.
Ultimately, though, it’s a little troubling that Brazil still are having trouble scoring from open play. It’s not from a lack of creating chances, but again from poor finishing. It should be noted that in this match, both our goals came from dead ball situations, and it was only at the end, when Team GB really began to look tired, that we started peppering the goalkeeper.
In any case, though, it was a solid match, and like so many Brazil matches, should have finished 4-0 if we’d just manage to bury our chances. Hopefully the team doesn’t get too cocky going into the tournament, though, because Team GB’s effort in this match was very poor.
Now onto player ratings…
Rafael Cabral – 6.5
Had almost nothing to do, but did make one fantastic save against Giggs in the 2nd half.
Rafael da Silva – 6.0
Looked fairly lively going forward, especially in the 1st half. In the 2nd half he was quieter, and for a 15 minute stretch had a torrid time trying to defend Danny Rose. Still more solid than Danilo would have been, though.
Thiago Silva – 6.5
What can you say? Confident in defense, and his delivery from the back was very solid, too. Just another day at the office.
Juan – 5.5
Was fortunate that Team GB’s attack was so weak that he rarely had much to do. Looked typically awkward when he did. One completely botched clearance in the 2nd half summed up his abilities nicely.
Marcelo – 6.0
By his standards, a very quiet game. Was beaten early and often during the first 10 minutes of the match by Sturridge and even Bertrand. Consequently, he became more conservative with his positioning and didn’t look to get forward quite as aggressively. Didn’t seem to click as well with Hulk as he normally does with Neymar, as the two swapped sides.
Sandro – 6.5
Extremely solid game. Read the game very well in the first half, intercepting numerous balls or closing down on the dribbler to assist Romulo or Oscar. His passing was conservative but accurate.
Romulo – 7.5
His best game in a yellow shirt. While previously he has always seemed fairly anonymous, today he was very visible. His defense was strong, his passing was far more incisive, and his movement off the ball much more adventurous. It was a pretty decent Fernandinho impersonation, all around. His only real flaw was his propensity to shoot one-timers from distance. A very encouraging display.
Oscar – 7.5
Not quite as influential as in the friendlies, but he controlled the game with all the calm, cool precision he’s becoming famous for. With the exception of his very first pass of the game, he didn’t put a wrong foot forward for the rest of the match. Accurate passing, good work rate, solid defense, intelligent movement, and boy, he is good at shielding the ball away from defenders.
Neymar – 7.0
A difficult match to rate. This is where the biases of the rater shine through, mine included. Certainly it wasn’t his best match of all time, but I thought he greatly improved as the match wore on. His early miss was absolutely ghastly, (though it should be noted the magnificent pace he showed to get to the ball in the first place) but in the 2nd half he looked far more incisive with his dribbling, consistently beating his man and working the ball into the final third. Flashed one shot narrowly wide, had another great skimmer stopped by Butland, snapped a beautiful ball near the far post for Romulo, and then displayed his inner Garrincha by beating Neil Taylor once, then stopping and beating him again before cutting back to Oscar who fired a powerful shot straight at Butland. Besides diving, his biggest problem right now is he too often tries to make things more complicated than they have to be, as if he feels he has to live up to his own reputation and always be spectacular. Still, if it’s pure production that you want, he scored a penalty and then assisted Sandro with a great free-kick. It’s his 5th assist in the last four matches. He leads the Mano era in both goals (10) and assists (6.) Still waiting for him to score a goal from open play, however – he hasn’t since Costa Rica. It’s frustrating that he’s been particularly poor of late when he has only the keeper to beat. But he continues to be Brazil’s most dynamic player, and despite all the boos he endured, he was voted the best player on the pitch by the attendees at Riverside Stadium. I’m not sure I agree…but I’m not sure I disagree, either.
Hulk – 5.5
A rather mediocre game from him. Did win the penalty for Neymar’s goal, but other than that, didn’t contribute a whole lot. His main problem was that he consistently took to long to make a decision when he had the ball. He is a player that has to play instinctively rather than cerebrally. Didn’t play with the same sharpness and aggression today as he did against Denmark and the USA.
Leandro Damiao – 5.0
Had a nice flick-on to Neymar early on that the Santos man completely botched, then botched his own header early in the 2nd half. Other than that, he didn’t have that much of a chance to be involved in any meaningful play. He’ll always work hard, but Brazil just isn’t making use of what he brings to the pitch right now. He’s almost never being used for hold-up play (or if he is, it’s with the nearest teammates all much too far away) or off of crosses. He seemed to benefit much better when Brazil was relying more on the slow-build up, which is why his best matches to date were in 2011, against Scotland, Argentina and Ghana. If Brazil are going to play with this kind of formation and this kind of style, Pato might actually be a better choice to start. I honestly believe that, while Pato is more talented than Damiao, Damiao offers more than Pato. But Pato can keep up with Neymar and Hulk better than Damiao can, which may be end up being more important. We’ll know more after the Olympics.
Lucas – 6.5
Ganso – 6.5
Pato – 6.5
I’m giving these players all the same rating because they all contributed at least one nice thing during their limited time on the pitch. Lucas offered a bit of direct running, Ganso sent in a wonderful ball to Pato, and Pato got on the end of it and headed it directly at Butland.
Now, I’ve already read since the end of the match that Lucas had a “better” match than, say, Hulk, or Pato a better match than Damiao, or Ganso a better match than Oscar. I’m not saying any of these players were better or worse – in fact, I’m saying that you can’t really judge much about what substitutions bring in a friendly. I read one comment on here that said Neymar lost the ball too much, but Lucas had a good game…and yet, for all of Lucas’ energy, didn’t he lose the ball just about every time he tried to penetrate the GB defense? The point is, we don’t have a complete picture of most substitutions because they have so little time to impact a game. Most players experience a lot of summits and valleys during the course of a single match – good one moment, poor the next, etc. So if Lucas played 70 minutes, there would be far more to comment on…possibly more good things, but almost CERTAINLY more bad things. (I’m not intending to pick on Lucas here, just using him as a convenient example.) So it’s pretty impossible to give a player a rating after such a short time on the field. Not to mention there are other factors involved – I thought all of the subs benefited from the opponent’s fatigue. The point is, I don’t think you can draw any conclusions from how any of the substitutions played, although it’s clear that each can immediately come on and impact a game. I actually feel that Pato, Lucas and Ganso might all be BETTER as subs. Lucas and Pato’s speed and directness can pay huge dividends against a tiring defense, and it can provide a little bit of thing Ney Franco was looking for every time he brought on Dudo and Negueba in the U20 World Cup. When the defense is used to playing against one group of players, and then they have to go up against players with an entirely different style, (who are also fresh) than that can be a very difficult prospect indeed.
Anyway, food for thought.
Comments are closed
MORE SOUTH AMERICA BLOGS
474 articles | 49,372 comments
761 articles | 10,942 comments
956 articles | 3,475 comments
165 articles | 306 comments
38 articles | 64 comments
162 articles | 620 comments
28 articles | 549 comments
20 articles | 14 comments
9 articles | 11 comments
5 articles | 124 comments