Mehndi Designs elephant1-restoration: 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Neymar and Ronaldinho Lead Brazil To 4-0 Victory Over Bolivia

Brazil pranced to their first victory under newly appointed coach Luis Felipe Scolari with an impressive 4-0 win over Bolivia in Santa Cruz de la Sierra on Saturday. Scolari opted for a 4-2-2-2 formation with Paulinho and Ralf behind Ronaldinho and Jadson, who in turn were positioned behind Neymar and Leandro Damiao. Scolari gave Ronaldinho both the number 10 jersey and the captain’s armband in a clear signal that team leadership belonged to him in contrast to Neymar, the second most experienced member of a Brazil squad composed entirely of domestically-based players. Ronaldinho commanded the midfield and orchestrated attacks with his trademark vision of the entire run of play by picking out both Damiao and Neymar and delivering threatening curling balls into the box from free-kicks with a tattoo of wolf on his back. Leandro Damiao opened the scoring in the 5th minute by latching onto a pass from the right flank delivered by Jean, who played in an unfamiliar position as a right fullback. Damiao’s goal failed to open the floodgates but it was Ronaldinho’s magic in an attacking midfield position that tilted the match decidedly in Brazil’s favor. First, a Ronaldinho free kick led to a scramble in the box followed by a Brazil goal that was deemed offside. Minutes later, however, Ronaldinho sent a flick through to Neymar on the left flank who, in turn, flicked the ball over the Bolivian keeper to make it 2-0 Brazil in the 31st minute. Ten minutes later, Neymar converted his second goal of the match when Jadson delivered a bullet of a cross from the right flank that Neymar directed into the roof of the net with a perfectly timed touch. After conceding three goals in the first half, Bolivia dominated possession in the opening 20 minutes of the second half but failed to produce any high percentage shots on goal. Vasco da Gama’s Dede impressively marshalled the Brazilian defense alongside Rever and showed that Scolari has plenty of options to complement the pairing of Thiago Silva and David Luiz in central defense. Scolari himself commented on the quality of Brazil’s centrebacks by noting: All centrebacks I call up end up living up to the expectations and that was Réver's case too. I already have four or five centrebacks fighting for the same position, and I can take four [for the Confederations Cup], so that's great. After the first half, Scolari substituted Neymar and Damiao with Osvaldo and Alexandre Pato. Despite Pato’s invisibility for almost the entire second half, Brazil remained lively thanks to the combined efforts of Ronaldinho, Jadson, Osvaldo and Paulinho, the latter of whom initiated Brazil’s fourth goal by bringing the ball forward and enabling a cross to Palmeiras youngster Leandro, who confidently struck the ball deep into the roof of the net to make it 4-0. Leandro’s goal capped an impressive performance by Brazil which, despite fielding only domestic players, is brimming with talent in defensive and midfield positions. Brazil next plays Chile on April 24 as they prepare for the Confederations Cup in June. Like the Bolivia match, the Brazil-Chile friendly on April 24 will feature only domestically-based players as it does not fall on a designated FIFA calendar date. Goals Brazil: Leandro Damiao (5), Neymar (31, 42), Leandro (90) Starting Lineups Brazil: Jefferson (GK), Santos, Dedé, Réver, Jean, Jádson, Paulinho, Ralf, Ronaldinho, Leandro Damião, Neymar Bolivia: Galarza (GK), Eguino, Zenteno, Bejarano, Melean, Campos, Bejarano, Moreno, Arce, Rojas, Veizaga

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fred Comes To The Rescue To Help Brazil Tie Russia 1-1

Brazil and Russia played to a spirited 1-1 draw at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium in a match full of chances that both teams failed to convert with the exception of one goal apiece. Fabio Capello’s Russian team appeared rested after having missed their scheduled friendly to Northern Ireland due to weather. Russia threatened the Brazil goal in the opening minutes thanks to strikes by Kerzhakov and Ignashevich. As the first half wore on, however, Brazil gradually began to assert themselves through the efforts of Neymar, who selfishly attempted to go for goal himself on more than one occasion when either Fred, Oscar or Kaka were better positioned to convert. Kaka and Marcelo contributed to the Brazilian attack while Hernanes remained largely in a deeper playmaking position and distributed passes to both flanks with impressive precision. Russia, however, maintained good form and cohesion both defensively and in midfield, thereby displaying superior positioning in comparison to Brazil, who played in characteristic Samba fashion with Neymar, Oscar and Kaka slicing their way through midfield supported by dangerous flank attacks from Dani Alves and Marcelo. Just as Brazil began to gain momentum, however, Russian midfielder Fayzulin picked up a pass from Kerzhakov and unleashed a rocket of a shot that Cesar narrowly deflected in the 41st minute. Brazil emerged from the break determined to take control of the game as Neymar and Kaka began pressing attacks fed by passes from Oscar and Hernanes. The match began to turn, however, soon after Oscar’s substitution for Hulk in the 67th minute. In the 73rd minute, Russia finally broke through after the ball bounced as if through a pinball machine in the box for a couple of minutes before Fayzulin finally shot it past a line of Brazilian defenders into the back of the net. Russia appeared headed for their first ever victory over Brazil were it not for the efforts of Hulk on the left flank, who began to show that his experience with Zenit had not gone to nought as he consistently troubled the right fullback Eschenko. Just when it appeared that Scolari was headed for his second loss in three games as Brazil coach, Marcelo played a give and go with Hulk whereby the Zenit striker drifted inward and returned the ball to the onrushing Marcelo, who in turn crossed to Fred in the box for the equalizer. Brazil piled on the pressure in the closing minutes but were lucky not to come away with a defeat given a late Shirokov shot from close range that went wide in the 93rd minute. Key points from today’s game with respect to Brazil were as follows: Brazil continues to develop an impressive midfield marked by extreme pace, vision and creative attacks and combination play. Fred remains far too static for a number 9 to cause any serious difficulty for the opposition. Ronaldo, recall, used to retreat deep into midfield and run at the heart of defenses. Fred, however, is both incredibly static and unthreatening for large parts of the game. Nevertheless, the Fluminense striker has now scored for four consecutive games in a row for Brazil, so Brazil fans should be thankful that at least someone can put the ball in the back of the net. This was yet another disappointing display by Neymar, whose inexperience with European defenders is becoming painfully apparent. Scolari will need to figure out how to more effectively position the Santos sensation so that he can properly execute the threatening runs into the box that he would like to make. Hulk inspired the Brazilian attack today after a disappointing performance against Italy four days ago. Were it not for his strength and vision, Brazil would have lost yet another match and dropped even further in FIFA World rankings. Scolari is making progress with Brazil, as we are beginning to see a mature midfield supplemented by two of the finest fullbacks in the world in the form of Marcelo and Dani Alves. Brazil’s poor finishing is perhaps the most alarming aspect of their game, however, as Fred and Neymar, in particular, both had high quality chances that they failed to bury into the back of the net. The main cause of concern, however, hinges around Neymar and whether he can be unleashed to display his unique blend of skill and vision on the international stage. If so, Brazil stand a fighting chance of winning the World Cup. Without a confident Neymar, however, it is unlikely Brazil will progress past the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup and perhaps not even to that stage of the tournament at all.