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Assessing the state
of two old rivals

Argentina vs. Brazil Oct 10, 2014
Read
Jun 18, 2014

Brazil's best option for its next match

Neymar had a difficult time weaving through the tenacious Mexico defence.

FORTALEZA, Brazil -- The change needed to be made at the end of the first half. Felipão saw it. But he saw it wrong! The right move would have been to beef up the midfield, bring on an aggressive player, but with the fitness levels to support the more talented players, bring the team together.

When Bernard came on, the team became even more spread out. The change exacerbated the tactical problems of the Seleção. There were few passing options, which was also the case against Croatia.

It wasn't a good training week in Teresópolis. A lot of leisure time and a lack of ball work, which may be a strategy to conserve the team physically -- and of course Hulk's situation may provide a clue. But without intense tactical training, it will be very tough to rectify these errors before the round of 16.

The risk of losing first place in the group to the Mexicans or Croatians, and the risk of being eliminated in the first round, which is a real one, are less scary than the vast possibility of coming up against a really tough opponent in the round of 16 without the quality or confidence to progress to the quarterfinal.

The best option for the next match may be the introduction of Willian in the position that Ramires, and later Bernard, occupied on Tuesday. Willian and Oscar, who formed a cohesive unit this season at Chelsea, can support the midfield and add creativity to the match.

Almost everyone played poorly. Only Thiago Silva was at his best, and Luiz Gustavo performed well again. Not even Neymar played well. And worse still. Paulinho once again played badly against Mexico.

Rating Brazil

BRASIL (4-2-3-1):


12. Júlio César (6.5); 2. Daniel Alves (5.5), 3. Thiago Silva (7.5), 4. David Luiz (6.5) and 6. Marcelo (5.5); 17. Luiz Gustavo (7) and 8. Paulinho (5); 16. Ramires (5) (20. Bernard, halftime (5.5)), 10. Neymar (5.5) and 11. Oscar (5) (19. Willian 37 minutes of the 2nd half (6)); 9. Fred (4.5) (21. Jô 22 minutes of the second half (4.5)). Manager: Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Paulo Vinicius Coelho

Paulo Vinicius Coelho ("PVC") is a veteran Brazilian sports journalist who has covered four World Cups and five Champions League finals. He is a football specialist, ESPN commentator in Brazil and columnist for Folha de S. Paulo, a popular Brazilian daily. He has written six books, including "Bola Fora," a history of the exodus of Brazilian players. Follow him on Twitter @pvcespn.