Having used up their “get out of jail” card already in the match against Croatia, Brazil looked spent in their efforts against Miguel Herrera’s Mexico on Tuesday night. A share of the spoils was how it finished after 90 minutes of mixed football. With the pressure on Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men ahead of kick-off, it was vital they grabbed the win to quench any doubts their supporters still had of them. But they failed to deliver as Mexico showed just how capable they were at soaking up the pressure. A convincing display would have been a major boost in confidence for the players after what has been a rather turbulent beginning to their World Cup campaign. But they looked almost over-awed by the whole occasion – which once more was preceded by a hugely dramatic, emotional and rousing rendition of their national anthem. But even before kick-off, there was a sense of expectation that Brazil’s golden boys would pull the win out of the bag – they nearly always do. But it just never transpired, and they were left chancing efforts from long-range until Jo was introduced. But even then, their attacking moves were just never good enough to break down a resilient defence.
An inspired man between the sticks for Mexico, Guillermo Ochoa needed to be at the peak of his powers whenever A Selecao came knocking. And although they didn’t test him quite as often, or as spectacularly, as they would have liked, they still kept him busy nonetheless. In particular, his 86th-minute rebuttal of a well-directed Thiago Silva header was a stand-out moment in a point-winning display. He’ll have been disappointed his attacking team-mates on the pitch couldn’t cause Julio Cesar an equal amount of problems, but a point against Brazil on home soil is a rare occurence indeed and one that’s sure to live long in the memory. With a custodian as alert and agile as Ochoa behind the defence, Mexico will feel confident of going quite far in this competiton, but they’ll need an injection of self-belief if they’re going to do so convincingly – they can’t rely on their shot-stopper to get them something out of every game, after all.
Despite churning out a largely forgettable performance, there were still a number of positives for Brazil’s management team to take away from their clash with Mexico at the Estádio Castelão. In particular, Barcelona forward Neymar was as unrelenting as ever in his search for goals, and despite not rattling the net as he would have liked, he still looks sharp. Without a doubt, they seemed much more threatening when Jo and Bernard were both introduced, as they offered them more of a focal point for their attacks. In stark contrast to when Fred was on the field, Scolari’s charges managed to get behind Mexico’s defence much easier and with greater regularity. In truth, Fred was a dead weight in the side and offered little by way of positives. Another encouraging sign was the display of Silva, who was solid and commanding at the back. Provided they can learn from their mistakes and start Jo next time round was well as continuing to leave Hulk on the bench, they might eventually find their mojo. But it needs to be soon, otherwise, this could be a hugely disappointing flop from one of the world’s football powerhouses.
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