Brazil vs. Australia: 6 Things We Learned
Brazil slaughtered a hapless Socceroos outfit, 6-0, in Brasilia on Saturday to dispel the unpleasant memories of their recent defeat to Switzerland.
Jo (2), Neymar, Ramires, Pato and Luiz Gustavo all got on the scoresheet for the rampant Selecao, in a match which revealed a yawning gap in quality between the two sides.
Here are six things we learned from the one-sided affair.
1. Brazil Ruthlessly Exploit Mistakes
The Brazilian midfield did extremely well to pressurize the Socceroos on the rare occasions they held possession.
Inevitably, the flustered Australians would turn over the ball, and when they did so, Brazil's counterattacking was swift and brutal.
All three first-half goals began with Australia losing possession.
Two or three rapid passes later and the Brazilians had the ball in the back of the net.
2. Fringe Players for Brazil Are Capable Replacements
With several of Brazil's regular starters missing though injury, their replacements stepped up and showed their worth, albeit against limited opposition.
Dan Alves, Fred, Oscar and Hulk were all ruled out of the clash against Australia, but Maicon, Jo, Ramires and Bernard looked right at home as they slotted into the starting 11.
Jo showed his sharpness with a pair of nice finishes, while Bernard was especially lively on the right for the Selecao.
Ramires put in a typically busy display and was rewarded with a goal in the second term.
3. Australia Must Improve Before the World Cup
Few would have expected Australia to beat Brazil in Brasila, but the nature of the performance and extent of the defeat were alarming for the Socceroos.
For a side that prides itself on its mental strength and fighting attitude, the Aussies were surprisingly submissive as Brazil put them to the sword.
Whether they were overawed or simply out of their depth, the Socceroos cannot afford to get beaten in such a manner if they are to stand any chance of getting out of their group at the World Cup next year.
4. Neymar Likes Football
The Barcelona superstar deserves huge credit for playing the entire 90 minutes on Saturday when he could easily have requested to be subbed at any time from about 3-0 onward.
With the match over as a contest before halftime, Neymar would have had every right to conserve his energies and avoid the risk of injury by taking an early breather.
Like his new teammate, Lionel Messi, Neymar clearly just loves playing football and wants to be on the pitch contributing goals and assists at all times.
In the often cynical world of modern football, it's an admirable attitude to have.
5. Selecting Players Who Are Playing Is Key
Three members of Australia's starting 11 ply their trade in Middle Eastern leagues, which are currently in their off seasons, while left-back Matt McKay of the Brisbane Roar is in a similar situation.
While this may only partially explain why the Socceroos looked so far off the pace, selecting four players who are not match sharp was a recipe for disaster for coach Holger Osieck.
The problem is a persistent one for the Australian side and needs to be addressed to avoid future embarrassments.
Paulinho and Luiz Gustavo Continue to Impress
Brazil's midfield double act, once again, showed why they make a great pairing in the center of the park.
Following impressive performances in the Confederations Cup, the deeper-lying Luiz Gustavo and the box-to-box Paulinho combined brilliantly, completely nullifying the Australian midfield with their persistent pressing and providing the impetus to get the ball moving forward to Neymar and Co. up front.
Gustavo even scored his first-ever goal for the Selecao, drilling a stunning effort past Mark Schwarzer in Australia's goal to cap a superb display.
Other players in the Brazil lineup may be interchangeable, but these two are crucial in terms of holding everything together.