Brazil 0-0 Venezuela: Brazil fail to impress
Mano Menezes’ first competitive game as Brazil manager ended with a poor 0-0 draw against a resilient Venezuela side.
Menezes played his expected side, which meant Ganso playing as the playmaker behind a front three.
Cesar Farias named a solid 4-4-2 side, with La Liga duo Nicolas Fedor and Jose Rondon upfront.
Brazil dominated possession, of course, and in the first ten minutes of the game looked like they were going to run riot. The longer Venezuela went without conceding, however, the more confidence the underdogs had, and the better they defended.
The match started at a much higher tempo than many of the Copa matches so far. Brazil looked to press from the front early on, whilst Venezuela closed down in the midfield, in a 4-4-2 system that became 4-2-2-2 when they won the ball.
Venezuela’s commitment to closing down got them into difficulties within the first ten minutes. Their two central midfielders, Franklin Lucena and Tomas Rincon, looked to pressurise Ramires and Lucas, but this simply left a yawning gap between their defence and midfield, which left Ganso in oceans of space. Brazil easily worked a 4 v 4 with Ganso on the ball after a few minutes, although they didn’t take advantage of the situation.
As we’ve seen before, most notably with Australia’s disastrous tactics against Germany in their opening World Cup game last year, closing down in midfield is suicidal if you have a numerical disadvantage in that zone.
Venezuela settle down
Unlike Pim Verbeek in that Australia v Germany game, Farias understood the situation here and told his two central midfielders to sit deep. The wide players joined them, and the whole Venezuela side played behind the ball and made it difficult for Brazil to play through them.
Brazil frequently looked like a broken team, with Ganso too high up the pitch close to the front three, rather than playing as the link man in midfield. The two central midfielders struggled for an available man to pass to, and Brazil’s dominance of possession wasn’t turned into chances. The best bet looked to be when the full-backs became involved, as the Venezuela wide midfielders often got drawn into the centre of the pitch, but they produced little on the ball.
The man who tried to connect the defensive ’six’ and the attacking ‘four’ with his typical energetic running was Ramires, but when he moved forward this left Lucas exposed in front of the defence (a little like Javier Mascherano in last summer’s World Cup), and Venezuela’s counters looked dangerous. Lucas was forced into two tactical fouls to stop breaks, and was fortunate to escape without a caution.
The first half pattern continued after half time. Venezuela got stronger at the back and actually looked more dangerous going forward – with the wide players coming narrow and making a 4-2-2-2, quick forward passes were always an option. They also dropped Fedor deeper, around Lucas, to help out in midfield.
Brazil continued to suffer from having a broken team in midfield, and long diagonal balls for Pato increasingly became their strategy. He controlled a couple of them well but Venzuela’s centre-backs positioned themselves intelligently, with Oswaldo Vizcarrondo particularly impressive.
Brazil brought on attacking substitutes – Elano, Lucas and Fred – and sometimes looked more like their 4-2-2-2 than their 4-2-1-3, but they had no cohesion in attacking zones and were relying on an individual moment of magic that never arrived.
Another underwhelming Copa game, with the underdogs able to shut out the favourites with relatively unspectacular tactics.
Brazil were poor in the final third and Menezes needs to work on the problems with a lack of compactness, but Brazil weren’t terrible. Unlike with Argentina, the shape and structure of the side seems OK, they just need some fine-tuning and some cohesion upfront.