Brazil scraped to a 2-1 victory over Bosnia & Herzegovina thanks to goals by Marcelo and an own goal inspired by a powerful Hulk cross. Mano opted for his trademark 4-3-3 formation with Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Marcelo starting behind midfielders Sandro, Fernandinho and Hernanes. Ronaldinho, Neymar and Leandro Damiao constituted the Brazilian attack with Ronaldinho playing in a deep attacking position. AC Milan’s Thiago Silva donned the captain’s armband as Brazil took the field amidst a crowd full of Bosnian supporters who made their voice heard throughout the match. Ronaldinho wore the famed Brazil number 10 jersey.
The match started auspiciously for the South Americans in the fourth minute when Dani Alves spotted Marcelo bursting through from the left flank toward goal and threaded a pass to the Real Madrid left back through a posse of players. Marcelo made no mistake and buried the ball past the keeper’s left to open the scoring. Marcelo’s goal should have been the cue for Brazil to open the floodgates and take control of the match, but Bosnia and Herzegovina refused to lie down lightly. In the 13th minute, Vedad Ibisevic equalized for Bosnia following a giveaway by David Luiz and horrendous goalkeeping from Julio Cesar, who allowed the ball to bounce off and over his body into the net without making an effort to stop the ball with his hands or feet.
In the 20th minute, Brazil almost took the lead when an inspired Fernandinho pass found Leandro Damiao, whose shot was blocked by goalkeeper Asmir Begovic. The rebound fell to Lazio midfielder Hernanes but was snatched away by superb defending from the captain Emir Spahic. The remainder of the first half featured lively play from Bosnia and Herzegovina as Brazil failed to find their feet in midfield and create the killer playmaking passes that could split the Bosnian defense. Ronaldinho, in particular, had a disappointing evening marked by mislaid passes and lack of midfield creativity. Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic caused problems for the Brazilian defense but the two teams nevertheless went into half-time tied at 1-1.
Brazil improved significantly in the second half following the substitution of Ronaldinho with Ganso but continued to struggle in the latter third of the field. Hernanes failed to convert a header resulting from a Marcelo cross and Neymar had a shot denied by Begovic. In the 90th minute, however, Brazil’s persistence paid off when Marcelo fed Hulk a ball on the left flank. The Porto striker delivered a powerful cross into the area which was deflected into the Bosnian goal by Sasa Papac.
Overall, this was yet another disappointing performance from the Selecao given how the team is bursting with talent. Mano seems to have decided on three skilled midfielders who play deeper in midfield in the form of some combination of Fernandinho, Sandro, Hernanes and Elias. Brazil’s midfield failed to create enough quality scoring opportunities, however, and the strikers, correspondingly, appeared unable to create the spaces that would lead to high percentage scoring opportunities. Given Ronaldinho’s poor performance, the obvious question is whether Kaka can revitalize the Brazilian midfield. Meanwhile, up front, Mano will have to reflect on whether Robinho can provide a more credible scoring threat amidst an attacking line-up that appears to lack the experience to break down highly physical defending such as that delivered by Bosnia and Herzegovina in today’s friendly in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Nevertheless, this is Brazil’s sixth consecutive victory and follows upon victories against Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico, Gabon and Egypt.