This isn't how the 2014 World Cup was supposed to begin for hosts Brazil.
Most pegged the Selecao as favorites to win the whole thing and almost everybody picked them to win Group A. Instead, Brazil labored against Croatia in a 3-1 win last Thursday and then drew 0-0 with Mexico on Tuesday night.
You can see below how much the hosts were favored to beat El Tri, per ESPN Stats & Info:
According to ESPN's Soccer Power Index, Brazil was an 86% favorite to win this match. There was an 11% chance to tie and 3% for a Mexico win— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 17, 2014
Brazil's draw wasn't because of a lack of effort from Neymar. He was their most consistent attacker and earned a match score of 7.8 on WhoScored.com.
Spanish football journalist Jimmy Burns, however, wasn't impressed with what he saw from the Brazilian playmaker:
Barca's Mundo Deportivo claiming Neymar was great in this game. No he wasn't. He is no Pele— Jimmy Burns (@Jimmy_Burns) June 17, 2014
Instead of criticizing the player, Brazilian football journalist Fernando Duarte thought the match was a good example of how reliant Brazil are on Neymar, perhaps to a fault:
You guys wanted to know how much Brazil depends on Neymar? You've just seen it.— Fernando Duarte (@Fernando_Duarte) June 17, 2014
Bleacher Report's Clark Whitney also thought that Neymar wasn't the problem. Instead it was Brazil's lack of a consistent target man and more creative central midfielders:
Neymar looks the real deal, Oscar & Bernard dangerous but #BRA really are missing a top CF & CMs who can operate in a tighter midfield game— Clark Whitney (@Mr_Bundesliga) June 17, 2014
In the first half, the Barcelona forward had a couple of great chances saved by Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. Although the score remained level, it was clear which of the two had the advantage, per ESPN FC's Tom Marshall:
Neymar 0-2 Ochoa at halftime. Brazil 0-0 Mexico.— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) June 17, 2014
Ochoa's save in the 26th minute drew a ton of praise, per Bleacher Report UK:
What shouldn't be forgotten, though, is how high up Neymar climbed to get a head on the ball, per Ben Smith of the BBC:
Tremendous athleticism from Neymar to get up to head that ball. Stunning save, though, from Guillermo Ochoa— Ben Smith (@BenSmithBBC) June 17, 2014
While Neymar commands a ton of attention whenever he's on the pitch, many fans have been focusing on David Luiz after his move to Paris Saint-Germain, which made him the most expensive defender in the world. Most were astounded at the price tag, so the World Cup was an opportunity for the centre-back to showcase his abilities and silence his doubters.
Although the 27-year-old was solid against Croatia, his performance against Mexico left a lot to be desired for Goal's Thomas Floyd:
David Luiz is not having a good game. Missing tackles, out of position, panicking on the ball. #BRAvsMEX— Thomas Floyd (@thomasfloyd10) June 17, 2014
SB Nation's Graham MacAree noted Luiz's penchant for moving up into the attack:
David Luiz has decided to stop being a centre back now— Graham MacAree (@MacAree) June 17, 2014
The PSG signing did improve as the match went on, eventually earning a 7.5 on WhoScored.com, which was the highest of Brazil's four defenders.
At the very least, the Brazilian's anthem singing was on point:
After the draw, Brazil sit first in Group A on goal differential, so Tuesday night's result was far from a catastrophe. As long as they can get a point against Cameroon on Monday, they should be through to the knockout stages.
Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari will have to work out some of his side's tactical issues, though, between now and then if Brazil are to look like the World Cup contender everybody believes them to be.