Tuesday, June 24, 2014

World Cup 2014 : Brazil vs Cameroon 4-1 / Mexico vs Croatia 3-1

Brazil Cameroon match as expected ended with the hosts clocking a thumping 4-1 victory & ending the Group stages as toppers, but the scoreline does not suggest, the panic stricken defensive errors by the normally composed four backs of Brazil, a thought that should bother Coach Scolari in the knockout stages ahead.

Brazil started in whirlwind fashion, with Neymar, Fred, Hulk & Oscar tearing through a clueless Cameroon defense.... it was some superlative & instinctive saves by the bearded goalkeeper Itandje & some poor finishes by the Brazilian forwards, that kept the scoreline blank for the first 15 minutes. Then, it was Neymar magic in the offing..... with the crowd howling for action, Neymar, picked up a beautiful cross from Gustavo, who raced in from the left flank, dodged a couple of defenders, & outwitted the goalkeeper on the wrong side, with a peach of a right footer into the net....the whole stadium erupted at this silken touch....it was the 100th goal of the tournament, & it was also the 100th World Cup match for Brazil. It was all picture perfect.
The goal, surprisingly instead of spurring, got the Brazilians into a quiet shell, & the ball was being played amongst the defenders, rather tentatively. Cameroon strikers took advantage of this & from a corner earned & a poor clearance by T Silva, got the ball to Nyom, who stabbed past Dani Alves & sent in a neat cross inside the box...three defenders including David Luiz stood glued & watched in horror, as Matip tapped the free ball into the net. A dreadful moment of defensive lapse...unpardonable from stalwarts like Silva, David Luiz & Alves. The score 1-1.
Neymar, of course kept skirting around for an opportunity, & taking a Marcelo through ball from left, dribbled in between two - three defenders & slotted the ball past the Cameroon goalkeeper.... Brazil was up again 2-1, as the crowd bowed in awe to the Wonder Kid & breathed a sigh of relief.
Second half began with Brazil substituting Paulinho for Fernandinho who brought the much needed skilled pace into the game. Fred, who had missed a sitter early on, finally made amends by heading in the third goal in the 50th minute, & then Fernandinho tapped in the fourth goal towards the end of the match to end the scoreline at a resounding 4-1. Hopefully Fred plays more freely now & Oscar & Hulk can take the work load of creating chances. It was glimpses of Samba football the world looks forward to.
After the third goal, Scolari, rightly rested Neymar, saving him from any unnecessary injuries & tried out the bench strength.
Brazil now meets Chile in the round of 16, a tricky encounter for sure, as even Scolari had mentioned before the tournament. Chile plays in Latin American style & the conditions suit them more than the Europeans. The team has done well till now with convincing wins against England & Australia & also stretching Netherlands.
Scolari will certainly have to work hard on the defense. David Luiz, Thiago Silva have to be more assertive in their role of central defenders, as Dani Alves & Marcelo overlap from the wings.... Paulhinho, Gustavo & Ramirez have to take extra load of supporting attack as well as falling back quickly to defend. It will have to be a more compact Brazil in midfield & defense, for their attack in Neymar, Fred, Oscar & Hulk to flow....
We are all waiting for the Samba football....the Selecao to go all the way.....however, as of now, its a Chiliean scare to combat....especially the defensive lapses.

In another crucial match, Mexico defeated Croatia 3-1, with visible confidence & they now take on the fancied Netherlands in the knockout stage. Many had disagreed with me when I mentioned that Mexico will prevail over Croatia, which has more stars in the playing eleven. However, Mexico is a team that plays quietly & effectively(remember how they held Brazil to a goal less draw...a match evenly poised)....they are a tough bunch of players who adjust to any environment without complains & here the humid & greasy conditions suit their style. If they play to their potential, they will cause worries to the Orange team from Netherlands.... an upset ????..... well !!! expect a cracker of a match.