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Jun 18, 2014

Scolari will need to rethink tactics

How will Mexico and Brazil continue throughout the tournament? The ESPN World Cup team weighs in.

Brazil didn't play well in Fortaleza. There were several tactical problems and the same old vacuum in midfield. The early goal didn't arrive, and Luiz Felipe "Felipao" Scolari's side struggled once again.

They couldn't beat Mexico goalkeeper Memo Ochoa, who was the best player on the pitch with all the spectacular saves he made. Mexico also were adept at playing with a fluid 3-5-2 formation. Paul Aguilar stuck closer to the right flank, and the center backs took turns hunting down Neymar in the middle.

Against the Selecao, which initially adopted a 4-4-2 formation with Ramires and Oscar on the wings, the Mexican team dominated the midfield. Jose Juan Vazquez, Hector Herrera and Andres Guardado outclassed Paulinho, who was once again lackluster, and Luiz Gustavo, who took a long time to realise that he shouldn't be following Giovani Dos Santos and should instead be pushing up to fill the midfield.

Brazil were fortunate that Mexico didn't take greater advantage of the space on the flanks and in the midfield as well as the rebounds off defenders. Mexico had 13 shots on Julio Cesar's goal, but only two were on target. They got their second wind with Marco Fabian replacing Herrera in midfield and a new attacking duo of Chicharito and Raul Jimenez in place of Dos Santos and Oribe Peralta.

Scolari has some big decisions to make if the Selecao are to lift their sixth World Cup.
Luiz Felipe Scolari is coming under criticism after Brazil's 0-0 draw against Mexico.

Felipao made a mistake in not taking off Paulinho. Bernard and Willian added little, but Jo at least provided more of a physical threat than Fred.

The tactical changes -- from 4-4-2 to 4-2-3-1 and, at times, 4-3-3 -- didn't make much difference. In the end, Thiago Silva and David Luiz held out at the back for the Selecao while Neymar tried to prove decisive in attack. But Oscar wasn't even inconsistent on this occasion. He was poor throughout the match, in spite of his seven tackles.

This tie wasn't a tragedy, but it tempered the fans' excitement, which fizzled out in the Castelao.

The time has come for Brazil to rethink the midfield in order to come back with a good performance against Cameroon at the Mane Garrincha Stadium. It's time to give Hernanes, the most skilled passing midfielder, a chance and to attack with intensity in the first few minutes of the match. Without this, Brazil won't be favourites for much longer.