Brazil's 5 Biggest Letdowns Against Mexico
The men's 2012 Olympic soccer final between Brazil and Mexico was guaranteed to crown a first-time champion—but it was the underdogs who prevailed to win gold.
Mexico struck a shocking blow against the heavily favoured Brazilians with a first-minute goal and ultimately held on to win 2-1.
Brazil had long targeted London 2012 as the opportunity not just to add that elusive Olympic gold to their bulging trophy cabinet, but to put down a definitive marker for their chances at World Cup 2014.
Brazil's progress to the final had been relatively untroubled. There were occasional troubling signs of defensive fragility—letting Egypt back in a game that should have been put beyond them, conceding two to the hard-working but hardly free-scoring Honduras—but Brazil's potent strikeforce always seemed to offer enough to cover these flaws.
But in the final, the wheels well and truly came off. When it mattered most, Brazil simply had no answer for Mexico.
Here are Brazil's five biggest letdowns against El Tri in the Olympic gold medal match.
1. Rafael Da Silva
It's hard to judge how much impact that early sucker-punch goal had on the rest of the match, but it certainly didn't help Brazil's cause.
And it was all thanks to Rafael's almost incomprehensibly sloppy play.
The Manchester United right-back's positioning, decision-making and execution were all incredibly poor as he rolled a terrible pass inside in his own half, leading to Peralta scoring Mexico's first just seconds from kickoff.
Rafael's day was summed up when a ludicrous, careless backheel finally inspired Mano Menezes to take him off the field to jeers from the Wembley crowd.
2. Thiago Silva
Team captain Thiago Silva's performance was emblematic of Brazil's defensive woes.
Careless marking, slow reaction and poor organization were the hallmarks of Brazil's back line against Mexico, and Silva embodied them all.
At the centre of defence, Silva should have done a better job marshaling the back line.
And as captain, he failed to exert any influence on a side that struggled to get into the game, appearing flat from the kickoff.
While the young star occasionally looked dangerous and created problems for Mexico as the match wore on, Neymar simply had too many mistimed runs and botched chances in a game where Brazil could ill afford them.
If Brazil are to rise to the challenge of fulfilling their potential at World Cup 2014, Neymar, like Thiago Silva, will have to provide more leadership.
4. Leandro Damiao
Up until this final, Brazil had scored three goals in each of their matches. But coming up against an organized and combative Mexican defence, they were always going to need their goal scorers to be on form.
Leandro Damiao, usually a reliable source of goals, disappointed, showing little of the spark or marksmanship that helped Brazil to the final.
Despite their lacklustre display, it seemed for a moment in injury time that Brazil might pull off an astonishing comeback to force extra time.
After pulling one back for Brazil, substitute Hulk—giving their best performance by some margin—chipped a cross into the box.
Oscar, unmarked just in front of goal, headed it over the bar.
It was a dismal end to what has generally been an excellent tournament for the young Chelsea signing.