Confederations Cup 2013: Three lessons as Brazil sink Uruguay
Confederations Cup 2013: What did we learn as a late Paulinho goal secured Brazil's place in the final at the expense of Uruguay?
Neymar magic proves decisive
Uruguay fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Brazil in the Confederations Cup semi-final on Wednesday at Belo Horizonte. In truth, the match was a slow burner, and it took nearly 25 minutes for it to really take off. The result means that Brazil have maintained their 100 per cent record in the competition and also have kept their record of just a single defeat on home soil in 50 years very much intact. And, despite not playing particularly well, former Santos man Neymar proved to be the Canarinha‘s decisive playmaker as it was he who was instrumental in the build-up to both goals. In the 41st minute, after a long pass was pumped towards the Uruguayan 18-yard box, Neymar did brilliantly to take the ball under control before getting a shot off. Fortunately for Fred, the ball fell kindly to him and his scuffed shot found its way past the last-gasp challenges to put A Selecao 1-0 to the good. In the second half, late in the game, it was Neymar who provided Paulinho with the assist to give Brazil the vital winning goal.
Uruguay stifle Brazilian flair
In the 13th minute, the referee awarded a penalty to Uruguay and although Diego Forlan’s effort on goal was saved brilliantly by Queen’s Park Rangers’ Julio Cesar, it looked very much as though La Celeste might bounce back to find a way to break down the Brazilian style and flair they naturally possess. Of course, they continued to hassle and harry Brazil in all departments and had Neymar, among others, clutching his shins on the ground on more than one occasion. Clearly, their game-plan was to pressurise Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men as much as possible and attempt to catch them on the break, and although they fashioned a number of chances in this manner, they simply couldn’t get a hold of possession as much as they liked. Nonetheless, they did get on level terms following the restart as Edinson Cavani capitalised on some poor defending to put his side back in contention. The reigning champions failed three times to clear the ball to safety and were made to pay as a lingering Cavani was in the right place to dispossess Marcelo before slotting home.
Scolari subs change the game
The second half began much as the opening one had as neither side seemed capable of grabbing the tie by the scruff of the neck. It took slightly over 30 minutes for the game to kick-start in to life and when it did it was thanks to the introduction of Atletico Mineiro man, Bernard, as well as Hernanes. In particular, Bernard, who plies his trade locally at Belo Horizonte received a rapturous welcome from the home fans as he jogged on to the pitch and, in truth, he delivered on his build-up. In one memorable instance, he played a delectable ball in to Oscar who combined with Neymar to create a chance, and although it was dealt with eventually, it showed us a glimpse of his potential. He had a lot of joy down the left flank and caused the Uruguay defence more than a few headaches in his short time on the pitch. He’ll be hoping he did enough to warrant a starting berth in the final, where he and his team-mates will probably face up to Spain in their biggest test of the competition yet.