Same old story. A win, yes. But Brazil produced another lacklustre performance last night and laboured to victory against Costa Rica in San José. They won 1-0 with Neymar scoring the only goal of the game. After their lively performance and win against Argentina, hopes had been raised but this was another familiarly frustrating Brazil performance under Mano Menezes.
The match kicked off at 3.00am UK time and I was forced to watch it on a tiny live internet stream so my analytical skills were not at their sharpest I have to admit. But, I was awake enough to recognise the familiar lack of urgency from the men in yellow and green. The headlines in the Brazilian press this morning are not too complimentary either.
The first few minutes were great and Costa Rica had a good chance to open the scoring. Brazil, then went down to the other end of the pitch and Fred blasted wide with just the Costa Rican keeper to beat. The rest of the first half, basically nothing happen. Or did I just fall asleep?
Brazil seemed happy with the slow pace of the game. As usual, they gave the opposition time to get back and defend in numbers. The most common sight was David Luiz and Thiago Silva passing the ball to each other with 11 Costa Rican players behind the ball. Against weaker teams I suppose that can be expected but the lack of urgency from Brazil is surprising. When they won free kicks, they were happy to wait for all the opposition to get back into position and then pass the ball sideways or backwards. Why do this when you have Neymar and Ronaldinho at the top end of the pitch?
Fabio made his first start at right back and made a few good forward runs. Dani Alvez came on for him in the second half and it was his excellent cross that set up Neymar’s goal. I was pleased to see Bayern Munich’s Luiz Gustavo start in midfield and he looks comfortable in possession of the ball. Better in possession than Lucas Leiva. I’ve posed the question to Liverpool fans: do you like him when he plays for Liverpool (see comments from my last post)? For, most the answer is a resounding yes. But in the seleção without having a good passer next to him and with Brazil giving opponents time to get men behind the ball, the ball playing skills of Brazil’s holding midfielder become more important. I think Lucas Leiva should only play in this Brazil if they up the tempo of their game.
Centre midfield is definitely Brazil’s problem at the moment. Ralf started alongside Luiz Gustavo but his distribution was very poor if you ask me. He gave some real hospital passes last night. Hernanes came on to give some much needed creativity to the centre of midfield in the second half but I was surprised and disappointed to see Luiz Gustavo make way for and not Ralf (I wonder if he has the same agent as Mano?). I couldn’t assess Hernanes’ performance because I was way too tired at this stage and dozing off but I think it was a good move and Brazil’s goal came with him on the pitch. Any thoughts from those who stayed up to watch the game?
Lineup (4-3-3): Julio César (Jefferson); Fábio (Daniel Alves), David Luiz, Thiago Silva and Adriano; Ralf, Luiz Gustavo (Hernanes) and Ronaldinho Gaúcho, Lucas (Oscar), Neymar (Hulk) and Fred
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