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This blog reflects on soccer qua football all over the world. The blog has a specific investment in attractive, attacking football and, as such, focuses on Brazil, the most emphatic historical exponent of the beautiful game.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Alves and Pato Seal Brazil's Victory Over the Ukraine

Brazil defeated the Ukraine 2-0 today in an international friendly that handed coach Mano Menezes an unbeatean 3-0 record and significant momentum going into November's clash against arch-rivals Argentina. For the second straight game, Dani Alves and Alexander Pato scored for Brazil with clinical finishing in a match largely played in Ukraine's half of the field. As promised, Mano opted to play 2 strikers instead of the usual 3 by adding an additional layer to midfield in the form of Elias, behind Carlos Eduardo. The new formation gave Carlos Eduardo more room to attack and support strikers Robinho and Pato. Ukraine sorely missed striker Andriy Shevchenko, who picked up an injury in Friday's 2-2 draw against Canada.

Dani Alves led the attack in the opening half with a shot on goal from long range followed by a free kick that mimicked the position from which he scored against Iran. The free kick narrowly missed the top right corner but the Barcelona defender kept coming forward, deftly combining with Robinho in the 9th minute only to scoop the ball over the bar. But Alves was not to be denied in the 25th minute as Robinho found the right full back near the net with an exquisite, long curling cross from the left flank that Alves volleyed into the back of the net to give Brazil a 1-0 lead. Brazil sealed the victory in the 63rd minute with a pacy attack down the right flank led by Carlos Eduardo. Eduardo crossed to Pato who turned and scored to give Brazil a 2-0 lead.

Brazil continued their dominance of possession in the second half with chances from Carlos Eduardo, Alves and Nilmar missing by inches. Mano, meanwhile, decided to substitute Carlos Eduardo, Ramires, Pato, Robinho and Elias with Giuliano, Sandro, Nilmar, Andre and Wesley respectively in an effort to give his young squad the feel of the yellow jersey that, as the legend goes, bears a tremendous amount of weight.

Overall, this was yet another great result for Mano and his young squad who are starting to gel in the space of just three friendly internationals and one dedicated training camp in Spain. The former Corinthians coach has captured the respect of his players and instilled an ethos marked by hard work and creativity on the pitch. Robinho is settling into his position as captain while Dani Alves's performances against Iran and Ukraine have injected new life into the debate over whether he or compatriot Maicon deserves the distinction of the best right back in the world. Finally, Carlos Eduardo has taken over the midfield and displayed the depth of Mano's Brazilian squad who have recently played without Ganso, Kaka, Elano or Ronaldinho in an attacking midfield position.

The Selecao will make their next stop in Doha, Qatar on November 17, where Carlos Tevez, Lionel Messi, Javier Mascheroni and the rest of Sergio Batista's stars will be eager to make up for their October 8 1-0 loss to Alberto Zaccheroni's Japan in Saitama.

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