The opening match of a tournament is often the toughest one because teams want to get off on the right start. When it’s the host country, the pressure to win the opener is palpable.
Brazil could not have asked for a better start to the FIFA Confederations Cup as it beat Japan 3-0 in a game where they were not tested or pressured. The tension and pressure on Brazil was lifted three minutes into the game as Neymar latched onto a ball and half volleyed a shot into the back of the net. The goal was the fourth-fastest goal of all-time scored in FIFA Confederations Cup play.
After the opener from Neymar, Brazil controlled possession of the ball for the rest first half, but found it difficult to create quality scoring opportunities as their play in the final third was disjointed and lacking precision. On the other hand, Japan failed to exploit this as it did not maintain possession and or string passes together to bother the Brazilian defense.
Japan’s two most important players, Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda, needed to control and win their respective midfield battles in order for Japan to have had a chance of winning. In the first half and for the game, they were non-existent and did not bother Brazil’s defense.
In the second half, Brazil continued to control the game and early on got a goal from Paulinho to make it 2-0. That goal gave them the necessary breathing room to keep up with their gameplan. Their third and final goal, scored by former Manchester City forward Jo, came on a counter as Japan had left itself exposed in a disjointed attacking sequence.
For the team coached by Luiz Felipe Scolari, the early goal allowed them to ease their way into the game and tournament. The start gives Brazil a good starting point to only get better, while Japan must go back to the drawing board.