Final Score: Brazil 0, Mexico 0
It may have been 0-0, but Brazil and Mexico played out one of the games of this World Cup so far in the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza. The Mexican team successfully silenced the insane Brazilian crowd the statement with a gutsy display that not only shut Brazil out but also had them on the ropes for long periods.
Here’s how it went down in Fortaleza:
Guillermo Ochoa Played the Game of His Life
The Mexican goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa, was brilliant throughout the game. He was able to command his area well in addition to making several impressive saves. None more so than the first half save from Neymar’s header. The Brazilian striker rose above Mexican star Rafa Marquez to but a good head on target from inside the box.
The goalie was equal to it saving low down to his right. Not only did he keep it out but he palmed far enough away that no other Brazilian player could latch on to it. Late on he also saved lowdown from a point blank Thiago Silva header from Neymar free kick on the right wing.
Neymar Never Got Into the Game
As expected Neymar was hassled throughout the game by Mexican veteran Rafa Marquez. Brazil’s best player was hassled and harassed everywhere he went. He wasn’t kicked off the pitch and did have some moments of genius. There was never an indication that Mexico was petrified by the sight of Neymar on the ball. The Mexican defense was calm and flew into tackles when they needed to. Brazil fans were antsy.
Brazil Has a Serious Problem With Strikers
Fred started the game as the lone striker for Brazil. He lumbered around and was caught offside three times early in the game, ruining some early attacks. After he did nothing for 70 minutes, Big Phil brought in Jo. Honest to God, Jo. He got into one good scoring opportunity where he was one-on-one with Ochoa on the left-side of the box. The former Manchester City player dragged his shot pathetically wide. With a better center-forward this Brazil team could run away with the goalkeeper. I don’t know why that made me think of Diego Costa.
The Ref Was Favorable to Brazil
To be fair to referee, Cuneyt Cakir, he got more balanced as the game wore on but early on Mexico couldn’t get any decisions. A clear save from Cesar was ruled a goal kick, an offside call on Fred from the assistant referee was ignored and early hard tackling from Brazil went unpunished. Late on, the ref got better, especially when he didn’t pay any attention to a blatant flop by Marcelo in the Mexican box. Although he should have given the Brazilian defender a yellow card.
Javier Hernandez Did Nothing to Enhance His Rep
With the Manchester United striker telling anyone who will listen that he doesn’t want to be a “super sub” anymore. The forward did little to prove to any coach that he has the professionalism to warrant a starting position. He struggled to get with the pace of the game when he came in for Peralta after 74 minutes.
So it All Comes Down to the Final Group Game
Against expectations, Brazil now has to beat Cameroon in their final Group A game to make sure they make it into the last 16 of the 2014 World Cup. Cameroon (or Croatia) might be out of the World Cup by that game, depending on who loses their game on June 18. Thus making it easier for Brazil when the two teams meet on June 23 in Brasilia.
Here is how the two teams lined up:
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo, Paulinho, Oscar, Luis Gustavo, Ramires, Fred, Neymar.
Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa, Pablo Aguilar, Francisco Rodriguez, Rafa Marquez, Hector Moreno, Miguel Layun, Hector Herrera, Jose Juan Vazquez, Guardado, Giovanni Dos Santos, Oribe Peralta.