Brazil beat Mexico 2-1 in a friendly match in a place called TorreÃ³n last night. I didnâ€™t watch the match but from all accounts it was a great escape for Brazil and Mano Menezes. Was it a lucky escape?
Of course, the match was only a friendly so the only thing that was really at stake was public opinion. But in any great footballing country â€“ Brazil is obviously no exception â€“ that counts for a lot. And public opinion on the Mano Menezes era has been steadily eroding since he took charge after the World Cup last year.
It started so well: Brazil fielded their young guns in a friendly match against the USA in August last year and won 2-0; Neymar made his debut and scored; Ganso made his debut and played very well.
But ever since that day, this team has gotten steadily worse. First came a defeat to France (after Hernanesâ€™ kung foo exploits), then a defeat to Argentina (never a good thing but excused due to Sr. Messiâ€™s great last minute goal), then a draw at home to a under strength Holland, then an terrible exit and showing at the Copa America, then a battering by Germany.
Hopes were briefly raised following a 2-0 win against Argentina. But put that into perspective: Brazilâ€™s home based players were playing against Argentinaâ€™s home based players. The Brazilian Championship is far stronger than the Argentine Championship thanks to a stronger currency and economy. The fact is, after this brief glimmer of hope, Brazil produced a dismally boring and lame performance against Costa Rica last week.
Last night, Brazil fell behind on 9 minutes thanks to a David Luiz own goal. Things got a whole lot worse on 44 minutes when Dani Alvez gave away a penalty and was sent off. In that intervening period, the match report doesnâ€™t mention any Brazil chances. Jefferson saved the penalty and celebrated it like heâ€™d won the world cup (that was good to see at least).
It sounds like Brazil played better in the second half considering they only had 10 men: they dominated possession with Ronaldinho instrumental but couldnâ€™t find space and time near their opponentsâ€™ goal. It was the Mexicans who apparently created the better chances.
The result will give Mano Menezes some more breathing space but not much, surely. I donâ€™t think that anybody in Brazil will be getting too excited about this result. Does this victory reflect positively on his coaching skills in any way? To me it seems like Brazilâ€™s raw talent â€“ something learned on the streets of Porto Alegre and Rio and not Mano Menezesâ€™ tactics board â€“ is what won them this one. I am talking about brilliance from Ronaldinho and Marcelo of course. See the short highlights clip below.
If you stayed up to watch the game wherever in the world you are, weâ€™d (me + other readers) love to read your comments. Another impression I am getting is that the public are all fed up with Mano Menezes but he still seems to be getting some support from the press and media. Is that true Denis/Gil?
Jefferson; Daniel Alves, David Luiz, Thiago Silva and Marcelo; Lucas Leiva, Fernandinho and Ronaldinho GaÃºcho (Hernanes); Lucas (Adriano), Neymar (Elias) and Hulk (Jonas).
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