Brazil 2-1 Uruguay: Defensive Brilliance Beaten by Magical Neymar Moment
Brazil beat Uruguay 2-1 at the Mineirao to reach the final of the 2013 Confederations Cup.
Fred and Paulinho scored either side of an Edinson Cavani strike to seal the Selecao's passage, and now await the winner of Spain vs. Italy.
Let's take a tactical glance at the game to see how Luiz Felipe Scolari's side is shaping up right now.
Uruguay lined up in a 4-3-1-2 with Diego Forlan in a withdrawn No. 10 role, while Brazil persisted with the 4-2-3-1 formation that has served up three wins so far this tournament.
No changes were made on Scolari's end, but Oscar Tabarez shuffled his pack once more.
La Celeste started by pressing high up the field, forcing mistakes, back passes and evasive action from Brazil's back line.
Paulinho and Luiz Gustavo struggle to create at the best of times, but faced with dogged, close-quarter pressure from Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, they seriously stunted the Selecao's attack.
Uruguay's midfield three—consisting of Alvario Gonzalez, Arevalo Rios and Cristian Rodriguez—pushed up in turn, leading to a high line and very little room for Brazil to play.
The home side had pre-existing issues with their buildup play anyway, but Tabarez's stifling tactics just made things infinitely harder.
Brazil's Lack of Options
The pressure in deep areas meant Brazil couldn't play through the middle, often finding themselves driven wide and playing balls down the line.
That brought the wide players into focus, as Uruguay's midfield three did a good job of locking down Oscar in the No. 10 role and nullifying any drives through the centre.
Marcelo played an excellent game, but Neymar was often crowded out. Hulk, sadly, was his normal useless self, achieving nothing for the Selecao down the right-hand side and leaving too much for Neymar on the left.
The prodigious talent would frequently drop very deep to receive the ball, but on the turn found it difficult to link up with anyone other than his left-back.
Forced Long Ball
Uruguay's high pressing and nullification forced David Luiz and Co. to launch high balls from the back, so the Celeste's defensive line needed to be in fine form to deal with the aerial assault.
Fortunately, Diego Godin and Diego Lugano both played magnificent games at centre-back, limiting the influence of target man Fred and assisting in creating turnovers in possession.
It took a wonderful bit of skill from Neymar to open the scoring: First the use of space and manipulation of his run to stay onside, collecting Paulinho's through-ball and steaming inside to face Fernando Muslera.
His effort was saved, but the rebound fell to Fred.
This goal epitomised the way Uruguay's system had forced Brazil to play, and it took a moment of individual genius to deliver a goal.
Brazil grew into the game more and more, and despite Uruguay's early second half equaliser through Edinson Cavani, looked a better side and deserved to win.
Hulk's departure was a catalyst for some of the Selecao's best play, bringing on the dynamic, trustworthy Bernard to play on the right instead.
His introduction helped the home side keep the ball better (Hulk's touch was awful all game), and he also proved much more efficient on the quick counterattack.
Brazil are still disjointed and easily spooked. Central midfield remains an issue, although they did look slightly better when Paulinho was pushed into the No. 10 role late on.
They don't have a central midfielder capable of dictating the game on the ball, and that could well prove to be their downfall in the final.
Similarly, Uruguay are a midfield controller away from becoming an excellent side. They counterattack at pace, but they'll never dominate with the likes Arevalo Rios manning the engine.
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