Brazil vs. Mexico: Tactical Review of Another Weak Offensive Effort from Selecao

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJune 17, 2014

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL - JUNE 17:  Fred of Brazil reacts as Thiago Silva looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A match between Brazil and Mexico at Castelao on June 17, 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil.  (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Brazil and Mexico played to a 0-0 draw in Fortaleza on an evening where goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa took all the plaudits.

The soon-to-be free-agent shot-stopper held the Selecao at arm's length all game long and denied Thiago Silva from point-blank range late on.


Formations & XIs


Brazil played their standard 4-2-3-1 formation with Ramires on the right wing, Oscar on the left wing and Neymar through the middle.

Mexico played their 3-5-2 formation and presented themselves unchanged from the 1-0 victory over Cameroon. Miguel Layun and Paul Aguilar continued at wing-back while Oribe Peralta continued as a centre-forward at the expense of Javier Hernandez.


Neymar as a No. 10 again

Luiz Felipe Scolari was forced into one change, replacing the injured Hulk with Ramires on the right flank. Some thought he'd switch to a 4-3-3 and unlock the Chelsea man's athleticism, but instead, he played as a true winger and helped Dani Alves with Layun.

Neymar, therefore, started in the No. 10 role with Oscar this time on the left. Another tweak from Scolari, but again, it made for rigid play on the pitch.

Jose Juan Vazquez performed superbly as Mexico's holding midfielder, restricting the space Neymar had to use and forcing the ball wide more often than not.

The deviation from Oscar as a No. 10 has not worked in either match so far, and it's confusing as to why the Brazil boss continues to meddle with a perfect formula.


What's eating Marcelo?

Marcelo's not been right so far this tournament, and over the course of 180 minutes played, he's scored an own goal and contributed very little in the final third.

Brazil's biggest trump card in the final third is Neymar's connection with Marcelo, and since the latter has been moved centrally, the former has struggled to link up, bomb forward and impact the game.

At times, he's looked lost while at others, he's looked plain unwilling. It's difficult to work out if it's just the removal of Neymar from his flank that's hurt his game or if he's suffering from an injury or tweak.

The 2013 Confederations Cup success was built on the basic principles of players—namely Fred, Oscar and Marcelo—making space for Neymar to shine. Scolari has removed that central attacking thesis, and the Selecao are struggling.


Impressive Mexico

That said, the Mexicans were impressive on the evening and were good value for a point.

Their 3-5-2 system was far more reserved than against Cameroon, planting the centre-backs deeper on the pitch and reserving the roles of the wing-backs going forward. They still found space and had a go, but El Tri's attacks were built through the centre using quick transitions more often than not.


Vazquez was sublime. Andres Guardado far better than in the opener. Ochoa will take focus, but as a team, Miguel Herrera's men were absolutely superb.

Scolari brought Bernard on at half-time (for Ramires) to try and liven things up, but Mexico were well-drilled defensively, and their three centre-backs headed every ball into the box clear.

They both move onto four points, but it feels like only one team is moving forward.