Brazil played Cameroon in the final game of Group A. The win was inevitable. The goals scored were in question. Brazil needed more than a few to top the group, otherwise, play vs Holland. Cameroon were out and were playing for nothing but pride now. Hulk featured once again for Brazil and they really needed their man to shine.
Cameroon came to Brazil 4-1 reason: to be beaten. It was Neymar who was the pick of the players. Brazil did top the group. The scoreline suggested a rout, but for long periods the performance told a different story. It is similar to the stadiums for the World Cup, a job in progress, which will just make the deadline.
Chile await in the World Cup second round on Saturday, and they will need more than Neymar on song to prevail.
Against a spirited but drab Cameroon, however, Neymar on his own was more than enough. Neymar’s role as problem-solver in this Brazil side is a familiar one, but for 70 minutes his team-mates were giving him plenty of work. An inability to keep possession in midfield allowed Cameroon to carve out a number of chances, one of which was converted by Joel Matip to equalise in the first half. Defensive lapses abounded, the new P$G center back pairing will have to up their game.
There were bright spots, too. Fernandinho came on at half-time and brought some stability to midfield. And of course there was Neymar, who scored his third and fourth goals of the competition, which he allied with enough effortless flicks and tricks to delight the capacity crowd in Brazil’s capital.
The major talking point would be Fred finally getting a goal. No we’re kidding, it would be Neymar’s hilarious dive at the corner flag. Bazinga! Got you again! It is Neymar, but in regard to his performance, which was absolutely top class.
With the game moving, it was becoming increasingly apparent that Brazil had this under control. Corner after corner, pass after pass, they were superb, albeit they were play versus Cameroon.
It all started when Marcelo dispossessed Benjamin Moukandjo on the left and Luiz Gustavo slid the ball across to Neymar, there was no question how this was going to end.
Neymar opened his body and placed a cool finish. The heir apparent of Ronaldo Lima had given Brazil something to be smile about. Taking the edge of the game.
Game over? Cameroon had other ideas. Seconds after rattling the Brazilian crossbar, they equalised: right-back Allan Nyom breezed too easily past Dani Alves twice and a perfectly weighted ball between Thiago Silva and David Luiz who could just watch the ball go past only for Matip tap that ball across the line. Brasilia left stunned. Brazil were one goal away from elimination. Gloom was back in the ascendancy.
Time for Neymar to land another blow, then. A poor clearance went straight to Luiz, who nodded the ball into Neymar’s path. Neymar shimmied past him and tucked the ball through his legs and it somehow seemed, the World Cup would be a happier tournament again. At half time Brazil were confident of getting a win if they stabilized their midfield. Scolari did just that.
Fernandinho replaced Paulinho at half-time, and instantly Brazil looked sharper. On 49 minutes, Luiz crossed from the left, and who should pop up at the far post but Fred, knocking the ball in from four yards. As he celebrated like a man who had scored a 40-yard screamer, it was hard not to share his immense relief. We would also like t mention the fact that he was offside, and we can say it again – Referees are and will be biased to Brazil as the tournament progresses.
There were still a few nerves with a 3-1 lead, and Brazil would go on to top the group and former Donetsk man, Fernandinho applied the gloss, making no mistake when Stephane Mbia lost the ball 30 yards from goal. Super stuff from the substitute, if we were Paulinho, we’d train harder.
The game was won and Brazil topped Group A. The swansong continued and the dream lived on. And of course there was elation at the end, but it was tempered somewhat: perhaps by the knowledge that Brazil’s flaws would be more effectively exposed by the first good team they faced as proven by Mexico.
They now will play a Chile side in R/16 who will be gunning for glory and will not shy away like a Cameroon or Croatia. Brazil cannot continue to rely on Neymar, although he seems more than happy to carry the burden. Brazil need to work on their defensive issues as there were plenty, but most of all, Luis Felipe Scolari, has to, has to play Fernandinho versus Chile. His willingness to run along with ability to destruct the play, make a dribble or even shoot from range, gives the versatility and the teeth that Paulinho and Gustavo have failed to provide. Oscar needs a bit more ball time and Dani Alves seriously needs to do something about his hair. All in all, a deserving victory for Brazil and sad end to a not so glittering World Cup for Cameroon.
FIFA/Our Man Of The Match – Neymar Jr.
Was a class above everyone else on the field. Seemed dangerous whenever he touched the ball and earned the win with two accomplished finishes. He is now the top scorer of this World Cup and Brazil look very convincing when he fires.
Flop Of The Match – Nicolas N’Kolou
Had a bad game throughout with misplaced passes, bad tackles and found it impossible to deal with Neymar when he was dribbling at him, which was nowhere more evident than on Brazil’s second.