Brazil, World Cup

Samba Sadness

Scolari Pic for BlogBrazil’s game today was not a clear indication that Germany is a thousand times better than them – rather, today’s game was a clear indication that they missed their best defensive player and their best offensive player.

Germany didn’t have much of a challenge today (if any), and Brazil lost their game against Germany before it even started (which I honestly didn’t expect). I said in a previous post about Brazil that Scolari missed the boat with some of the selections he’s made for the World Cup. Lucas deserved to be called up as he offers the flair that they so sorely missed without Neymar today. With Thiago Silva missing the game, Filipe Luís would have been a great player to put in the back next to Dante, especially considering that he is more defensive-minded than Marcelo – who I believe has been a weak link throughout the World Cup.

But all of that is quite irrelevant, and what is relevant is Brazil’s unfashionable demise… In this World Cup David Luiz pic for blog
Brazil never emphasized playing their Joga Bonito style football. Instead of playing the “beautiful game” as they are known for, they relied on midfield grittiness from the likes of Paulinho, Luis Gustavo, and Fernandinho – and in my opinion this proved to be their downfall. They simply could not compete with Germany’s midfield offensively, and as a result were completely take advantage of. Brazil’s best defense has historically been it’s attack, and today that was clearly proven as they lacked any semblance of attacking structure. Their dependence on Neymar throughout the World Cup was impeccably obvious today. Their team got by when Neymar was healthy, and it would have certainly been interesting to see if Thiago Silva could have influenced their defense if he were in the game. But ultimately, and as I said before, their absence is irrelevant, and Brazil should have never lost so terribly to Germany in the first place. Furthermore, I can’t comprehend why the best right back in the world – Dani Alves – didn’t start in such an important game. While I do like Maicon, he is way past his prime and should not have been given the chance on such a big stage today. Brazil will now need to respond with fury if they are to defend their World Cup performance – and the best way to do this is to dominate in the third place game.

Andre pic for blogBut anyway, Luiz Felipe Scolari will have a really tough time dealing with the football press as Brazil’s suffered it’s worst defeat in their 94 years of football. This game was not just a loss, but it was a uppercut to Brazil’s football willpower and a microcosm of their larger issue – that they need to field more technically sound creative players. Joga Bonito is not dead, just as Tika-Taka is not dead – Brazil just needs to find the players to play with a technical love and passion that they have seemed to miss this entire world cup. Also, Brazil lacked depth, and that is Scolari’s fault first and foremost. Countinho deserved a spot after his year at Liverpool… Pato is better in Scolari’s system than either Fred or Jo, and Miranda played lights out for Atletico this year. Yet, Scolari overlooked them all, which is utterly unbelievable.

That said, Germany’s performance should be admire as they took all the chances that Brazil gave them. Germany is playing much better with Khedira and he should continue to start. Furthermore, Hummel’s return seemed to have shored up a defense that was terrible against Algeria.

One more point: André Schürrle should start in the final and for Chelsea this year. He’s more clinical than people give him credit for and takes all the chances he gets without a moment’s hesitation.

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Brazil, World Cup

It’s no longer Chile in Brazil

Chile has been a force to be reckoned with throughout the world cup – they manhandled a Vidal and Sanchez pic for blogdisappointing Spanish team, held there own against the Netherlands (who seems to be the strongest team so far) and they’ve played with grit and determination throughout the tournament. Their tenaciousness was truly evident today, as they disrupted the Brazilian attack all game.

In fact, Neymar didn’t seem comfortable in the first half when he arrived in the box with the ball… He kept trying to bring the ball back to his right foot which was very surprising considering that he’s proven to have a strong left foot strike (Spain is very aware of this – youtube Neymar’s goal against them in the confederations cup in the final last year). Chile’s defense held strong today against Brazil’s attack, but more importantly, their attack held their own against Brazil’s defense, and this had a lot to do with their midfield. Aturo Vidal might be the best box-to-box midfielder in the world – and quite honestly, he’s a linchpin in Chile’s lineup that a team like Brazil could have really benefitted from – because let’s be honest, Gustavo, Fernandinho and Oscar simply didn’t show up today and aren’t players that the Brazilian attack can run through.

Neymar Pic for blogThat said, Brazil need to find more of a rhythm considering their level of talent. The fact that a player like Lucas didn’t make their national team is quite disturbing, especially considering that Oscar had an extremely quiet year at Chelsea but still managed a starting World Cup spot (as a midfielder, rather than his more effective position on the right wing where he played best for Chelsea in his first season).

Brazil failed to emphasize the importance of creativity in the midfield, and instead have relied far too much on on moments of brilliance from Neymar this entire World Cup – and while that’s worked to an extent, this is the first time in a long time that a Brazilian squad lacks many players with that Brazilian Neymar-esque flair. In the past,Lucas pic for blog Brazilian teams have showcased a balance of flair and grit, but this year has been more about the flair of one man (Neymar) as opposed to that of the entire team. This was nowhere more evident than in their game against Mexico where it was proven that Neymar can’t do it all on his own.

In the second half of today’s game against Chile, players like Bernard and Lucas (had he made the team) should have been backing up Neymar in the midfield – especially because Oscar continues to be a non-factor (and let’s be honest, his first goal of the tournament should/could have been defended better).

Brazil Defense pic for blogA further note: With Brazil’s defense known to be so solid, they can afford to field more attacking midfielders.

Chile dominated the second half of the game, Neymar didn’t have as much space, and Jo was incapable of easily finishing off of a great cross from Hulk in the box… Brazil has never been known to have a bulky striker spearheading their attack… This is something that needs to change – I’d like to see Neymar up top, with Hulk on the left and Oscar on the right… In this way, Neymar is truly the focal point of the  Brazilian attack (although the one concern I’d have is that he would not be able to roam around as much as his current role allows). That said, it’s still a risk that I believe would pay off dramatically.

Extra time in today’s game was quite interesting, with Vidal out due to fitness, Chile lost some of it’s offensive prowess, and this ultimately lead to Brazil’s domination in the extra half hour. But, as we all know, despite that domination – the game ended at the penalty spot – where, despite the admirable performance of both teams, Brazil won.

Reflections: Neymar has played admirably at the Word Cup, if he brings Brazil all the way, and can continue scoring where Fred and Jo cannot – he should be a candidate for the Ballon D’or (especially with the lack of support he’s getting from Oscar).

One thing that can be taken away from this game is that the tournament as a whole will not be a cakewalk for Brazil, and they cannot afford not to play at the top level for the rest of it.

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