Brazil started Tuesday's World Cup Group A match with a midfield
trio of Paulinho, Luiz Gustavo, and Ramires, who started on the
right in place of usual starter Hulk. Oscar played slightly further
forward between the midfield and attack.
But Ramires was taken off at halftime and Oscar was also substituted
before the end, while Paulinho looked out of sorts and was lucky to
last the whole 90 minutes in Fortaleza.
Manager Luiz Felipe Scolari said he took Ramires off because "he's
an impetuous player who had a yellow card and we didn't want him
getting a red."
But he cannot have been happy with the way defensive midfielders
Luiz Gustavo and Paulinho gave the Mexican attackers far too much
The Mexicans let loose with shots from outside the box on several
occasions and while most of them flew over they were getting into
"Brazil need to mark, cut down space and not even let Mexicans think
they can take the game to Brazil," former Brazil player and TV Globo
commentator Casagrande said midway through the second half.
"They're shooting from far out. They've been doing this since the
start but they're doing it a lot more in the second half and they
are getting a lot of space. The Mexicans are using the space well
but Brazil aren't even getting in a position to shoot."
Scolari agreed and said he was also having trouble convincing his
own players to follow suit and let fly with long-range efforts.
"Sometimes we passed instead of shooting," Scolari told reporters.
"I tell them they sometimes need to have a go, they need to believe
in their shooting."
[to top of second column]
With a solid looking defense and the attacking trio of Neymar, Fred
and Hulk, who had been nursing a thigh problem, appearing set,
Scolari's dilemma ahead of the final Group A match against Cameroon
in Brasilia on Monday is who to play in midfield.
Paulinho looks jaded after a disappointing first season in England
with Tottenham Hotspur and Luiz Gustavo also struggled to make an
impact against the impressive Mexicans.
He may not want to risk Ramires and a second yellow that would lead
to a one-match suspension but he will surely be tempted to give a
run out to either Willian or Fernandinho, two players whose English
Premier League form last season helped them force their way into the
squad at the last minute.
(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Patrick Johnston)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.