Felipao Examines Options but Pato Disappoints vs. Zambia
The Selecao arrived in China to a hero's reception. It may have been 1.30 in the morning, but a hardy group of fans—predominantly of Bayern, Chelsea and Real Madrid—were at Beijing's Capital Airport to greet their heroes.
Regardless of club allegiance, Neymar was the centre of attention once more, leaving a group of female fans crying at the thought of having made contact with their idol.
For the Barcelona star, it was just another day, but for many fans in China, the opportunity to see Brazil—at the same hour that the Chinese national team were playing—was too good to miss.
While their adoring fans wouldn't have worried too much, Brazil failed to live up to expectations on the night.
Zambia are not a terrible side—albeit this was not a full-strength Chipolopolo lineup—but the Selecao should have done far more, given their absolute control on proceedings.
Luiz Felipe Scolari chose to make changes from the side that strolled past Korea on Saturday, bringing in Dede, Maxwell, Lucas Leiva, Lucas Moura, Ramires and Alexandre Pato for the encounter.
With Brazil now just fine-tuning their side ahead of the World Cup, with mainly squad places up for grabs, the match represented a good opportunity for those brought in to cement their place in coming matches.
The results, however, were mixed.
Dede played well, defending stoutly when Zambia did manage to launch counter attacks, and Maxwell was as competent as ever on the left flank.
Lucas Moura, also, was lively throughout prior to his substitution, but his namesake in midfield had a below-par evening in central midfield.
The biggest disappointment, though, was undoubtedly striker Alexandre Pato.
The Corinthians striker was lucky to be selected in the squad in all honesty, having not started on a regular basis for Corinthians over the course of the current Brasileirao season. He may have picked up a few goals along the way, but his performances have not been good.
Pato, meanwhile, seemed to have left his touch back home. Nothing worked out for him before being replaced at half time.— Tom Webber (@thwebber) October 15, 2013
Pato lasted just 45 minutes on this occasion, fumbling his way through the first-half before exiting at half-time.
His instincts looked strong at times, with it clear what he was intending to do. His first touch and lay-offs to those around him were, however, well below expected levels.
The defining moment of his contribution came late in the first-half when he was handed the ball on a plate by Neymar with only the keeper to beat. His control was abysmal and the biggest goalscoring opportunity of the night was wasted.
Alexandre Pato lasted 45 minutes and was taken off at halftime. Would be surprised if Big Phil gives him another chance.— Brian Homewood (@brianhomewood) October 15, 2013
Pato may be lucky, however. Brazil are not currently blessed with great striking options and that might just keep the 24-year-old involved. His club form and this performance, though, do not suggest he will be of great use next summer.
There is still time for Pato to regain form ahead of next summer or, indeed, to get his once highly promising career back on track in general. He should, though, be left to do so at club level.
Scolari was generous to both Pato and Lucas Leiva in handing the duo places in his squad for these two friendlies, despite below-par performances at club level this season. Both, though, will be sweating over a place next time around, having done little to justify a repeat inclusion.
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