Brazil met with the old rival Argentina this Wednesday in Doha, Qatar. The game being played for out in the middle east due to interests for the 2018 & 2022 World Cup bids that will happen next month. Not that any Brazilian or Argentinean could care for that matter, as playing and beating convincingly the old rival is what matters most when these two football powers meet. It was the first time Mano Menezes (Brazil manager) faced Argentina, and therefore he called up one of his most experienced player available: Ronaldinho Gaucho, to help on the formation of his new group. On the other hand, Argentina were coming from a 5 year period without beating their biggest rivals, taking humiliating defeats along the way. It was Sergio Batista’s first full game in charge as an effective manager.
Mano Menezes in his call up, opted not to call many of his Brazil based players, as the Brazilian league is coming to an end and many clubs are fighting for the title (Corithians, Fluminense & Cruzeiro) while others are fighting against relegation. The call up was mainly focused on European based players, with the surprise addition of Ronaldinho Gaucho (AC Milan) and the absence of Hernanes (Lazio) and Marcelo (Real Madrid). Ronaldinho Gaucho was snubbed by Dunga at the South Africa World Cup, was given the chance to give his Brazilian career a rebirth. The big question lies on whether can he keep his place in the squad, let alone on the first team until 2014? Anywway, Ronaldinho was a good addition to the camp and provided a good atmosphere for his new teammates, such as Neymar who grew up idolizing his football. Now they had the chance to play together.
The game started with Brazil controlling Argentina, with many short passes and a 3 man holding midfield and a 3 men light weight attack without the presence of a proper center forward due to the injury of Alexandre Pato (AC Milan). The best two chances came from a back heel of Ronaldinho Gaucho 5 yards from the goalie, and from the offensive play of Daniel Alves (Barcelona) in the right hand side of the attack. Neymar’s (Santos) first big test against a top opposition was running wings around the experienced Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan). While the unproven Andre Santos (Fenerbache) was making Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), remember his times in the Brazilian league when he played for Corithians, and had a play in which Edilson (Brazil World Cup 2002) put the ball under his legs twice on the same play. This time round, Andre Santos just made the violent and very Diego Simeone-esque, Mascherano dance from side to side with his dribble. At the end, Argentina despite having a chance or two with Lionel Messi (Barcelona) and Higuain (Real Madrid) were lucky to end the half in a nil- nil draw, such was the superiority in possession and game control of Brazil.
Argentina sorted out their marking system in the second half and Brazil’s play went downhill. Brazil created little, with Ronaldinho not being able to dictate the game as he was in the first half, and Robinho completely disappearing from play. Neymar was Brazil’s best offensive player on the pitch. Daniel Alves was also having a good game in the right hand side of the attack. However, Mano Menezes, in his first big test at the helm of the Brazilian job, started making his own mistakes. He took to long to change the team. When he did make the long awaited substitution, he put on the creative midfielder Douglas (Gremio), which frankly is not up to international level’s standards. He was slow as usual, and had little mobility in the play while having a big age (27) to being tested in the national team. Instead, Mano Menezes should have brought on Inter Milan’s young sensation Phillipe Coutinho, who would have given Brazil more mobility to attack the Argentina defense, and drive Javier Mascherano even crazier, with the possibility of getting him sent off by exploring the yellow card he had received. Mano Menezes also put Andre (Dynamo Kiev), which was a good test, to see how the young center forward reacted to play a high-pressure game with Brazilian colors. In the end, Brazil paid the price for not being more aggressive and killing the game in the second half, were the substitutions were not very good tactically or even strategically for the building of the long term team. Lionel Messi scored after a mistake by Douglas, who lost the ball childishly in midfield.
This game was very important for the observations of the manager. Victor (Gremio) is looking very solid in goal and will be a very good reserve for Julio Cesar (Inter Milan). Daniel Alves is very solid in attack and will put on a battle with Maicon (Inter Milan) for the first team place. The defense has been so far the best part of Mano’s Brazil. Thiago Silva (AC Milan) and David Luiz (Benfica) are set to make a long lasting solid partnership in the molds that Lucio (Inter Milan) and Juan (Roma) had for the team in two consecutive World Cups. Andre Santos’ defensive skills are a liability for the team, with Marcelo (Real Madrid) now being coached by Jose Mourinho and sharpening his defensive skills, he looks set to put a good challenge for the position, plus he has a very good age (22), The midfield many options are appearing. However, Lucas seems to be very lightweight and Sandro (Tottenham) hardly ever gets a game for his club side. His partners in the right hand side will put a great showdown battle, between Ramires (Chelsea), Elias (Corinthians) and Hernanes (Lazio). The playmaker position seems set for Brazil’s biggest young star Paulo Henrique Ganso (Santos) who is out injured. Ronaldinho Gaucho, Kaka (Real Madrid), Ederson (Lyon) will all be fighting for a subs bench position. While in the front, Brazil is currently lacking a goal machine man. This time around, there are no Romario’s or Ronaldo’s, however Neymar (Santos) looks set for a stating position in the team. On the other flank, Robinho (AC Milan) better get his game going, as he is playing really bad for club and country. Can’t see him continuing in the team with such poor displays. Alexandre Pato (AC Milan) will either maintain the center spot in the attack or be shifted to the side of the pitch, making way to Nilmar (Villareal), the return of Luis Fabiano (Sevilla) or bet on the force of Hulk (Porto) and the injury prone Fred (Fluminense).
All in all, this game showed Mano Menezes has to focus his team selections on quality. He called many players that he has worked before in club level (such as Douglas) that can be a liability to him. Also, he needs to focus in doing like he did on club level, and be more aggressive in the time to win matches. Today he did not go for the win in the second half, which he paid the price dearly in the end. There is still a big road to go through before Brazil has an established team. So far, only the defense seems to be working perfectly, and with time and selecting the correct players, the team will be ready to take form in the Copa America in June 2011. Now, Brazil will be heading to the Stade de France in St Denis, at the outskirts of Paris, for an encounter with the new French team of Laurent Blanc in February 2011. Mano’s army go marching on, in search of a defined pattern in the tactical jigsaw that is the Brazilian “ Selecao”, with the mission of beating Argentina in the Copa America 2011 .
About the Author
Written by Dennys
Soccer fan with knowledge from Brazil and European Soccer!