Excellent Brazil beat Germany to heal (some) psychological scars

Tite fielded his strongest line up last night (Mowa Press)

Germany may have rested a few of their best players last night, but there are many reasons that Brazil can be happy about the result and their performance.

Despite this being a friendly, Brazil took the match very seriously: Tite fielded his strongest line up; he made only one substitution during the whole match; and you could see how badly he wanted to win by his animated movements on the sideline. That Brazil won (1-0), and did so quite comfortably, it will go a long way to healing some of the psychological wounds caused by their 7 – 1 humiliation in 2014.

Nearly everybody in the Brazil team had a good game, although I thought that their defence deserves special praise. Thiago Silva was very impressive and he now will surely start alongside Miranda in Brazil’s opening match at the World Cup. (Marquinhos looks like he will need to make do with a place on the bench.) I also thought that Marcelo was excellent, again. Not only is he very good in defence, but he offers so much going forward.

I really admire the Brazilian’s brilliant ball control, which is epitomised by Marcelo. They control it, take a touch in the tightest of spaces and walk out of there, or pass their way out, like they are doing a training exercise. After a while, the opposition stop bothering and wasting their energy trying to get the ball. Germany started both halves with a high press, but that didn’t last long because Brazil controlled and passed their way out of that.

Admittedly, this was just a friendly, and Germany didn’t seem to be taking it quite as seriously as Brazil. In a competitive game, and with their best players on the pitch, I would expect more from them. However, Brazil have Neymar to come back themselves and even without him, they looked quite a lot better than Germany. They had several chances to make it 2 – 0 in the second half, while Germany’s best hope of scoring a goal seemed to be from a cross to one of their tall centre forwards. Despite being shorter than their opponents, Miranda and Thiago Silva dealt with the threat really well.

The only change to the line up from the game against Russia was Fernandinho taking the place of Douglas Costa, which meant that Philippe Coutinho moved from the centre to the left. Before the game, I said that I would like to have seen Philippe Coutinho play in the centre.  Against Germany, this was probably the right move. Fernandinho was good, and offered a lot of protection to Brazil’s back line playing alongside Casemiro. I still think that Philippe Coutinho is more effective in the centre (and he didn’t play as well last night as he did against Russia), but that is probably a sacrifice that Brazil need to make against the best teams. When Neymar comes back though, that means either Philippe Coutinho or Willian will drop to the bench.

Despite scoring Brazil’s goal, I didn’t think that Gabriel Jesus had his best game. He missed one or two clear chances and gave the ball away a lot. Nevertheless, his work rate and movement were good and you got the feeling that eventually he would score; his goal came a minute or two after a bad miss and you know what they say – that is the sign of a good striker. My only other criticism was that Dani Alves, once again, got caught in possession in a very dangerous area. Germany messed it up, but they could have had a clear run on goal. He really needs to be more careful and get this out of his system.

Last but not least, Brazil’s fine day was capped off by Argentina losing 6 – 1 to Spain.

My player ratings:

Alisson 7, Daniel Alves 6, Thiago Silva 9, Miranda 8, Marcelo 8, Casemiro 8, Fernandinho 8, Paulinho 7, Philippe Coutinho 7 (Douglas Costa 7), Willian 7, Gabriel Jesus 7

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