Brazil vs. Chile: 6 Things We Learned
Brazil and Chile played out a 2-2 draw in the new, renovated Mineirão stadium in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday night, in a match that saw the Seleção repeatedly booed by their own supporters.
Brazil, who boasted several first-team players among their ranks, were comfortably outplayed by their Chilean opponents, despite the scoreline, with La Roja playing none of their regular stars.
The pressure on Luiz Felipe Scolari continues to mount after a poor set of opening results, and the outcome of Wednesday night's game will not help his cause.
Let's, then, take a look at six things we can learn from Brazil's latest friendly encounter.
Brazil Are Yet to Move Forward Under Scolari
Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari took the reins in December, knowing his task was simple: to bring about an upturn in Brazil's fortunes and help the side challenge at the 2014 World Cup.
Thus far, the first aim can be declared a resounding failure, while the second appears increasingly unlikely. These are worrying times for the host country of next year's tournament.
Scolari has now had five matches to get some sort of a system under his belt, even if two of the fixtures have been with only Brazil-based players and has failed to do so. There is no clear suggestion of a plan for Brazil to proceed with.
The solitary win of the new Scolari era, so far, has come against Bolivia. Italy, Russia, England and Chile have now all passed without Brazil coming particularly close to being the better side. It is a major worry, on a night when Brazil used several "first-team" players.
For Chile, on the other hand, it was almost a complete reserve side.
Sampaoli Has Chile Believing
Chile had started to lose the momentum of its recent footballing rise in the late Claudio Borghi era last year, but has been handed a new sense of being under former Universidad de Chile boss Jorge Sampaoli.
Sampaoli's Chile were quick in attack and oppressive in defence, showing far more desire and belief than their hosts throughout the encounter.
La Roja were helped, of course, by the fact that many of this second string have played under Sampaoli before and know his system. It cannot be understated, though, that they have virtually a new 11 players to come into the side for World Cup qualifiers.
If the game could be described as a battle of the coaches, there was only one winner—despite the 2-2 scoreline. Sampa's Chile were fluid and incisive; Brazil were clunky.
The home fans cheered every Chile pass toward the end, while jeering Brazil's aimless punts forward. It was a sad reflection of the current Brazilian game.
Jadson Has an International Future
Sao Paulo midfielder Jadson has been in excellent form at club level for much of the last year and showed further signs of transferring that to the international scene on Wednesday night.
While the attention, pre-match, was on locally based Ronaldinho wearing the Brazil No. 10 shirt, it was his attacking midfield colleague who stole the limelight.
Brazil were poor, with little cohesion and fluidity. In Jadson, though, there was some invention and quality in attack. Unlike with Ronaldinho, he is also capable of performing against high-pressure defending.
While Jadson may never be considered good enough to start for Brazil's full national side at a World Cup, his versatility should make him a strong candidate for inclusion.
There is no standout backup for No. 10 Oscar at present, so Jadson may just be the ideal man for a squad role.
Eduardo Vargas Can Still Make It at Napoli
When Eduardo Vargas joined Napoli last January for a fee of €11.5 million, it was supposed to be the start of big things for the 23-year-old on the European stage.
Vargas shot to prominence in 2011 as the star forward of Sampaoli's Copa Sudamericana-winning La U side. However, he is already back in South America, as a loanee at Copa Libertadores hopefuls Grêmio.
While his club form has been nothing spectacular, Vargas was sensational on Wednesday night. It was the kind of performance that helped shoot him to prominence under Sampaoli 18 months ago.
When at his best, Vargas is a potent dribbler, a menace off the shoulder of the last defender, and, of course, a fine finisher. His curled 25-yard effort earned Chile a more-than-justified point on the night and will have delivered an answer to some of his own personal critics.
Ralf and Paulinho in Midfield Is Not the Answer
Ralf and Paulinho are an impressive partnership for club side Corinthians—that goes without saying. In a compact, primarily defensive formation, they provide an excellent shield for the defence. Paulinho, for his part, also contributes greatly to the team's attack.
Thus, many people have suggested the pair as a solution to Brazil's midfield woes—especially since the duo performed well against Chelsea at the Club World Cup. They have, though, never been better than average for Brazil in these domestic player internationals.
If Brazil want to compete with the best in the world, then Ralf and Paulinho as a combination is not the answer. They were comprehensively outperformed by the Chile midfield on Wednesday, although it should be pointed out that No. 10 Ronaldinho was little, or no, help in stopping his opponents.
To opt for Ralf and Paulinho as a pair would be to accept mediocrity. It is something Brazil should never have to do. With the passing talents of Hernanes and Romulo, the energy of Ramires and the brute force of Sandro, there are options available that would be better at this top level.
Corinthians narrowly beat Chelsea, and it was a fine achievement. But for the finishing of Fernando Torres, though, it may have been a different story. The Chelsea of December, though, should not be used to represent all elite opposition.
Corinthians, too, are a very different side to what the public will expect from Brazil next summer.
Brazil's Striking Woes Continue
The man currently in possession of the Brazil No. 9 shirt, Fred, is injured. Many, though, do not believe him up to the task of performing the role at a World Cup. The problem, though, is a lack of any major competition.
Leandro Damião was the man entrusted on this occasion, but the Internacional man turned in a poor performance on the night. While seemingly back in some sort of form in early 2013, he was horribly out of sorts this time around.
Nothing would stick for the target man, who showed once more that he must improve with his back to goal, and he was removed at halftime in favour of Corinthians new boy, Alex Pato.
Pato has been in reasonable form at club level, but has been far from outstanding as he settles back into life in Brazil. There was, though, some evidence in this showing that he could still play a major role for Brazil in 2014.
The former AC Milan striker was able to create a goal for Neymar with some fine movement to get on the end of a Jadson through ball, before squaring to his colleague. Sadly, though, there was little further opportunity to see just what kind of form he is in.
Brazil are in dire need of a "new Ronaldo" or even just a reliable figure to fill the No. 9 shirt. Fred appears the most suited to the role at present, but the lack of depth in striking positions is a major worry.