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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.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Brazil Clinches Stunning 2-1 Victory Against Mexico

Brazil secured a thrilling, come from behind victory against Mexico on Tuesday evening in a friendly match that featured an own goal, a spectacular Ronaldinho free kick, a left footed rocket into the roof of the net from Marcelo, a red card, a penalty save and promising play from Hulk in his first start for the national team. The match began at an electric pace, with Mexico, the home team, taking the attack to the five time World Champions. In the tenth minute, one of Mexico’s attacks down the right flank paid dividends when a cross from Pablo Barrera caused David Luiz to inadvertently flick the ball into his own net to give Mexico a 1-0 lead. All of a sudden, Brazil found themselves down a goal, away from home, with a Mexican team determined to use its pace to maximum advantage to disrupt its short passing game.

Hulk, Neymar and Lucas dominated the attack for Brazil while Ronaldinho orchestrated attacks from midfield with the help of Marcelo and Dani Alves. Hulk added an extra dimension to Brazil’s attack by switching places on both flanks and attacking down the center as well, leading with his preferred left foot. Neymar posed additional problems for the Mexican defense but the majority of Brazil’s shots in the first half were either off target or lacking sufficient pace to threaten the Mexican goal. After earning the early goal, Mexico opted to defend with eight men behind the ball and counter-attack. Brazil responded in trademark fashion by bringing a central defender like David Luiz forward to join the attack, but Mexico defended well and frustrated Neymar and Hulk.

The game took a dramatic turn late into the first half when Dani Alves received a red card for fouling Javier "El Chicharito" Hernandez in a Mexican counter-attack that burst through the center of the Brazilian defense. Botafogo goalkeeper Jefferson saved Guardado’s penalty to keep Brazil in the game, but Brazil went into the half down a goal, down a man, away from home, playing a Mexican side undefeated in fifteen games under coach José Manuel de la Torre.

The second half opened with Brazil struggling to make sense of how to take the attack to Mexico given their one man deficit. Mano Menezes replaced Lucas Moura with Barcelona’s Adriano to preserve a back four given Alves's ejection. Soon enough, the match turned scrappy as Brazil contested every challenge tooth and claw. And in the 70th minute, after recovering from the daze of their one goal deficit, Brazil began to fight for the first time in Menezes’s tenure. Marcelo began to lose his temper, as did Ronaldinho, Hulk and Adriano. Screaming in frustration at each other and the referee, the Selecao protested close calls and fouls not given.

79th minute. A foul near the edge of the box. Neymar traces the arc of a parabola as he goes flying. Ronaldinho steps up to take the free kick and puckers his mouth upward as he stares at the goal with focused concentration. The ball curls, spins, dips and bulges the back of the net as Oswaldo Sánchez lunges to his left. Dinho has scored and brought Brazil level after being a man down and a goal down. A touching embrace with Neymar in the goal celebration.

83rd minute. Marcelo charges up the left flank, receives a give and go from Neymar, and then bolts into the box. Staggering past a posse of Mexican defenders, Marcelo keeps his head down and sends a rocket into the roof of the net. Brazil leads.

Brazil holds on for an impressive come from behind victory. And for the first time since the Dunga era, they look like a team again. They look like Brazil again.

Squads

Brazil: Jefferson, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo; Lucas Leiva, Fernandinho; Ronaldinho; Lucas Moura, Hulk, Neymar.

Mexico: Oswaldo Sanchez; Carlos Salcido, Rafael Marquez, Francisco Javier Rodriguez, Efrain Juarez; Jorge Torres, Israel Castro; Pablo Barrera, Andres Guardado, Giovani dos Santos; Javier Hernandez.

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