Group H made its debut on Tuesday, but the biggest game of the day actually is part of Group A as Brazil took on Mexico. Mexico had beaten Brazil to claim the Olympic gold in 2012 and now it seemed that there was very little between these two sides. Brazil won its opener against Croatia, but was far from convincing. Meanwhile, Mexico took three points from its encounter with Cameroon, but could have scored more than the lone goal that gave it victory. Brazil had to show what they were capable off and Mexico were trying to cause a major upset. This game had a tremendous amount of implications for both sides. Both teams will be out to prove themselves more than capable of winning Group A. A major blow for Brazil was losing Hulk and his place was taken by Chelsea’s Ramires.
Neymar and Co. were forced to take a point, and that is all they deserved as the game ended 0-0. It was fIrst time since 1978, Brazil failed to score in a group game.
Mexico are no longer the pushovers in the Group. The team has more a structured flow and a solid attacking mentality that yielded a number of opportunities against Cameroon. However, Mexico’s backline teeters a bit when it is pressured by a strong attacking presence and the team has relied heavily on the heroics of its keepers to keep it alive. Guillermo Ochoa made a huge save late in the Cameroon game to preserve the 1-0 advantage. If Brazil retains the ball, then Mexico will be forced to do what it does worst: defend. The game started at a fine pace, with Brazil finding fluidity in their play, but were not able to open up the disciplined defence of Mexico. Soon, Mexico got in the game too, and they were playing one tactic only. Pass, pass, pass, and test Julio Cesar from distance. Usually effective, this time it wasn’t even close. As the game progressed, The likes of Thiago Silva and Neymar went close only to denied, while Julio Cesar forced into a few late saves, as Mexico frustrated Brazil throughout the half – resulting in an entertaining stalemate, with absolutely nothing to separate the two sides. Fred was a major disappointment and Thiago Silva had a brilliant half. For Mexico, it was their captain Marquez and keeper Ochoa who shined.
As the second half began, Mexico seemed to be the dominant team. If only they had done a little shooting practice, then they would’ve definitely scored against a shaky Julio Cesar. Thiago Silva was the saving grace for Brazil and prevented them from losing their first game on home soil since 21st August, 2002 when Paraguay beat Brazil 1-0 at the Fortaleza. Mexico now found the fluidity that Brazil had in the 1st half and the Brazilians were not only outplayed but they were also outran by a fierce Mexican side.
Both sides used all three available substitutes but to no avail for either side, as Mexico failed to test the Brazilian keeper and as Brazil got back into their groove, it was all in vain as Neymar and Co. were denied time and time again by an in form Ochoa. The game ended at 0-0 with Mexico looking like the superior outfit, and Brazil just seem to lack that little bit extra, which could’ve taken them all the way. They seemed to be below par today, the Seleccao. Mexico’s tactic of crowding out Neymar and Oscar. and subduing them worked well and we finally saw one side that stop this formidable pairing. This draw blows Group A wide open and we can’t wait to see what awaits us the tournament progresses.
Brazil’s lack of experience in attack, over reliance on Neymar and Mexico’s ability to maintain a strong defensive line throughout were the key factors in the game. The notable part about this match, apart from Mexico’s tireless and surprising shift, and Brazil’s sub-par performance was the display of the referees, who seem to be messing up too many decision this World Cup. Mexico were penalised twice for no fault of theirs but rather for Neymar’s affinity to be a dolphin. Moreover, they did not award a corner to Mexico and did not even realise that Giovanni Dos Santos had run the ball out of play. Another referee rant for us, maybe? All that said and done, to sum up, on a humid night in Fortaleza, Mexico had lots to be proud off and Brazil had lots to work on if they want to progress.
FIFA/Our MOTM- Guillermo Ochoa. This free agent who has 6 fingers on his right hand, single handed saved Mexico and earned a point for his side. He denied an unusual header from Neymar with what could be one of the best saves ever seen in a World Cup! He made a total of 9 saves, and 4 shots could have easily gone in, with the Mexican denying Thiago Silva from some 3 yards out. Mexican fans be like – Ochoa for President!
Flop of The Match- Fred. He hasn’t scored a goal since his brace vs Spain in the Confederation Cup Final. He has the responsibility of spearheading Brazil’s attack, and was a tremendous disappointment. He always seemed to be offside and if we didn’t know any better, we’d say he was probably trying to avoid contact with the ball. Or perhaps he was just born offside? With a pass completion rate of 50% and a impact rate of zilch, he looked out of sorts and was rather relieved when he was brought off. Next game, Scolari might need to give him the advice that every coach gives to the ten year old strikers they train: “Son, don’t run away from the ball, you’re supposed to put it in the opposition’s goal”
FootballsToYou Talking Point – What on Earth was going on in Neymar and Dani Alves’ mind when they decided to have that outrageously ridiculous hair colour? They looked like 70 year old ladies and maybe after seeing that Mexico eased up and realized this was all a big joke for Brazil.