Guys, you don’t know how hard I try not to be what some call a “Debbie Downer” when I speak about the Seleção. Unfortunately, they make my job so hard that I’m obliged to give you a point of view that is far from the pink filter most people involved in the CBF seem to use to see the world and Brazil NT performances.
I can’t say it wasn’t expected. The Argentinian line-up, along with Alejandro Sabella’s ultra-defensive approach by bringing a 3-5-2 that resembled a 5-3-2 when Brazil was with the ball, gave Brazil some problems. Still, it was clear how the players lacked in technical quality, but made up in their tactical approach, and things could have turned up badly for Brazil.
Initially, both teams studied each other like two fighters in a boxing match. Brazil had most of possession, while Argentina tried to press and make something out of mistakes on counter-attacks. Brazil misplaced several passes, but Argentina did it as well. A few long shots taken by the Brazilian attacking force weren’t giving Boca Juniors Ustari much trouble.
The match was close to enter the 30 minutes mark, and the crowd were getting impatient already. And the goal happened. Unfortunately for Mano, it wasn’t Brazil’s.
Argentina, in the only opportunity that they were able to connect more than 3 passes in attack, scored a goal to make it 1-0. Clemente Rodríguez connected to Martínez, a Corinthians player, who put the ball past Botafogo goalkeeper Jefferson whom just stood in front of the goal, ball-watching.
It made some of the Brazilian supporters a bit mad. You could already hear some of them booing, and chanting “Felipão!” (he was fired from Palmeiras, and is now on the free market). But pretty soon, the scoreboard would change again.
In a foul close to the box, Neymar took the free kick to connect a header to Paulinho, who was offside. Neither the referee or his assistants seemed to notice, and the goal stood even though the Argentinian players rightfully complained. Brazil 1, Argentina 1.
More boring stuff, Brazil trying to make something out of Neymar and Lucas runs, but the 1st half ended as a draw.
Both teams entered without changes, and Brazil seemed to have some kind of burst in the first few minutes of the 2nd half. But it ended really soon, and the match became really poor. Both teams misplaced several passes, and the long balls to their center forwards – Luis Fabiano for Brazil and Barcos for Argentina – just didn’t work out. The crowd, once again, was running of patience. And the definitive moment came at the 75 minute mark.
A few minutes before, Leandro Damião went in as a sub to Luis Fabiano, what brought some booing to Mano. But when he decided to bring out Lucas – who was, by far, the best player on the pitch for Brazil – to play Wellington Nem, the whole stadium descended into booing and a really loud chant of “Felipão!”.
That would only change when, at the 80 minute mark, Leandro Damião was brought down in the penalty area by Debátaro. Neymar took the spot kick and converted it: Brazil 2, Argentina 1, and the crowd changed its mood once again. It didn’t mean that it would start a massacre; Argentina played even tighter, and crosses made by Brazil seemed useless to bring anything new to the match. It ended 2-1 for Brazil, with a mixed reception by the crowd: some still booing and calling for Felipão, and some applauding the team for the efforts.
One thing that was clear to me was how the crowd isn’t the common supporter, the one that you see in normal matches during the Brazilian Championships, from Serie A to Serie D. That probably is due to CBF and its peers putting very high ticket prices – up to R$ 80, which represents 13% of Brazil’s basic wages – for a friendly match. That might be the reason why not only the stadium wasn’t full – Serra Dourada has a 55,000 capacity, but only 38,000 were present -, but also the public’s demand of seeing an spectacle not being attended.
IIRC, that was Mano’s 4th or 5th showing in Brazilian fields. And once again, his team fails to conquer the public in its entirety. That’ll be a pretty hard task, and I already voiced how I’m not sure if Mano is up for the challenge. If anything, they’ll have another chance of making a good impression on Argentinian fields in October 3. A draw (the championship doesn’t have goal difference – ridiculous, I know) will bring the trophy to Brazil, and a loss will take the match to penalties. Let’s see what they’ll make of it.