Weekly English Premier League Opinion - World Cup Edition Day 9
Brazil vs. Costa Rica
Where has samba soccer gone? Boring Brazil versus tournament savvy Brazil, which one will win out.
All the emotion, support and inevitable pressure was massively evident at their home World Cup last time. Perhaps that euphoria was a bit too much to handle and the tiny detail of winning football matches got lost a little in the sunshine. That defeat resonates deeply and maybe memories have not been forgotten just yet.
So at the World Cup 2018 tournament team Brazil might have learned a little, matured a little, certainly changed a little.
Costa Rica came to sit in and spoil, nothing surprising and nothing wrong with that strategy. Costa Rica were happy to concede unimportant territory and willing to concede unimportant possession when very important territory was not threatened. The risk of penetration was sporadic and rare, often boring. It seemed like both teams were waiting for the last 15 minutes to actually play. Brazil happy to drain the tank of Costa Rica with relentless possession, Costa Rica happy to defend and escape with a point. Neither game plan was exciting, fun, creative or even interesting.
The referee allowed those strategies to thrive with limited attention to detail. If you want to stop infractions to the rules, then enforce the rules, punish the fouls. This tournament has been punctuated by fouls and free kicks continued again in this game.
At halftime Brazil made a sub. But not the addition of talent, rather the replacement of talent. It wasn’t adding to the attacking threat, rather just replacing the attacking threat. Wllian out, Douglas Costa in. Not Brazil at all. Not the expectation at all. We wanted more.
The immediate bounce at the halftime substitution was evident, an interesting change to the boredom for a couple of moments. But a shift in the trend of the game, nowhere near enough.
More Brazil dominance, but no real threat. Opportunity but no genuine chances. Winning on paper, but not winning on the field. Possession statistics are crazy, goals scored statistics are annoying. When will Brazil attempt to win this game.
20 minutes or there about and Firmino comes in for a central midfield shield that was not needed, Poulinho substituted. This makes sense, this make total sense. Waiting until the 67th minute to change the shape of the game is confusing, this should have been the opening strategy, to try to win the game out right. Aside from the strategies, Firminho should be starting these games ahead of anyone in the Brazil front line.
The dynamic of this contemporary Brazil is in the balance, everything that can help Brazil win this World Cup can also be their point of failure, their strength and weakest link is the same. Neymar dominates the team, at least from an off-field perspective, but Brazil need that dominance from an on-field perspective. The narrative coming into this game was that Neymar was being fouled out of the tournament. But the reality is that Neymar is cheating his way to success, or at least attempted success. Complain about the poor opposition treatment and the weak refereeing all you want when it is correct. And accept the accountability for cheating when you get found out. Neymar booked for simulation. My preference is to find the balance, assume dignity when you feel cheated, assume integrity when you feel like cheating. Neymar trying to deceive a penalty was the most creative Brazil got all game.
Effective but not enjoyable.
By Jonny Carter - Chicago Fire