To paraphrase Argentine sports commentator Juan Pablo Varsky, in soccer, as fans, we value those who play well during a game but measure success by who scores the most. This was certainly the case on Tuesday as Brazil defeated Uruguay 2-1 in their FIFA Confederations Cup semifinal match to advance to play in the final Sunday.
Many will probably look over and dismiss Brazil’s performance against Uruguay but the display from Brazil in the game leaves much to be desired and is a cause for concern. Brazil began the game with the same starting eleven it used for the first two games of the tournament with Paulinho coming back as a starter after having an injury.
Uruguay came out with a game plan, which ceded to letting Brazil control possession. But in turn, the focus was to close any open space and make Brazil have to be more methodical instead of being direct when attacking. This particular game plan proved to be effective as Brazil looked disjointed and ineffective in attack and Uruguay had the better chances but failed to convert the best one it had. In the 15th minute, Diego Forlan had a penalty saved by Julio Cesar.
Brazil broke through four minutes from half as Paulinho sent a precise pass that left Neymar one-on-one against the goalkeeper and his shot was saved but Fred pounced on the loose ball for the 1-0 lead. The lead was short lived as Thiago Silva once again committed a defensive mistake, this time a miss clearance and Edinson Cavani made him pay and scored the equalizer.
Brazil continued to show the same lack of creative imagination, idea, and precision for most of the second half, just as it did in the first half. The substitution of Bernard coming on for Hulk, who has given and done absolutely nothing all tournament at least gave Brazil some attacking life. As it seemed like the game was headed into extra time, Paulinho rises above the Uruguayan defense, doing a better job of timing that Martin Caceres and heads home the game winner from a corner.
What was most disappointing is the game confirmed that with coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, Brazil appear to continue to abandon their jogo-bonito tradition. The only reason why Brazil won this game is because of the simple fact that Brazil is who they are, a five time World Cup champion. It is clear that the winning DNA which it possesses as soccer nation was the factor in them pulling out a game they had no business winning.
It is clear that Brazil between now and Sunday are going to have to do something to find a way to improve but give a nation something to look forward to in the way they play as they are a far ways off from playing jogo bonito. A start would be to bench an ineffective and useless Hulk and insert Lucas Moura, a player who would allow give the attack more presence and also inserting Hernanes over a Luiz Gustavo would also help in improving the offense.
While it will be nice to see hosts Brazil advance to the final, depending on the opponent, this team will struggle if it plays how it did today. Brazil better hope Spain don’t win it’s semifinal because if they do face La Roja, it is liable to lose by a score line of 3-0, 3-1, 4-0.