5 Things for Brazil Fans to Look Forward to in Wake of Draw vs. Mexico
Brazil is yet to show the football that people are expecting from the host country team as it failed to impress in its second presentation in the 2014 World Cup. A 0-0 draw against Mexico wasn't up to the expectations of a team looking for the Hexacampeonato (sixth championship).
It's no secret that Brazil could have won the match against the Mexicans if it wasn't for the heroic performance of 'keeper Guillermo Ochoa, but that is no excuse for Scolari's team, which still has a lot to improve and work on.
On the other hand, Brazil is the leader of Group A and did show some team improvement in the match. Progressive improvement is always important in order to reach peak performance in the latter, most crucial part of the tournament. However, Felipao should accelerate that ascending progress, otherwise Brazil could end up leaving the World Cup earlier than expected.
Here are five things Brazilian fans can look forward to after the tie with Mexico.
Brazil has one of the best defensive lines in the world, something that didn't show in the game against Croatia. The Europeans were able to breakthrough the Brazilian defense several times, and they created a sense of danger when they were determined to attack.
Against Mexico, Brazil's defense was more solid and limited its rival's attacks. The Mexicans' most dangerous plays came from long-range shots because they couldn't get close to Julio Cesar's territories. And even when Mexico had it's best offensive minutes during the second half, Brazil gave them no space to manoeuvre.
One of the few times that Oribe Peralta got the ball in the box and tried his dribbling skills, he wasn't able to get a clear shot or a dangerous cross as he immediately got double coverage.
When either Dani Alves or Marcelo went up, Luiz Gustavo and Paulinho had the perfect timing to close the gaps left on the wings. Even when David Luiz ventured up the field, Brazil found a way to have its back line guarded.
Brazil has the obligation to attack, but don't expect the Selecao to leave a highway in the back ready for the opponent's counterattack.
More Goals and Less Ochoas
It is unusual to think of Brazil not scoring a goal, especially when it was able to create four extremely clear options to score, two of which fell to Neymar. Against Mexico, that was made possible thanks to Ochoa's saves.
It is very unlikely that, if Brazil finds that same number of clear chances to score, another opponent's goalie will be able to save them all. Ochoa was a wall at the Castelao. His performance that night was any goalkeeper's dream, which is why it has gained so much praise and also why it was an unusual performance.
If Brazil keeps creating clear chances, then it will sooner than later find the back of the net. Once it finds it it's not going to be a one-time thing, either.
Cameroon allowed four goals against Croatia and three (two of them wrongfully disallowed) against Mexico. The African squad is Brazil's next opponent and goals should be forthcoming.
The Clock Is Ticking for Fred
Coming into this year's World Cup, it was always said that Brazil was lacking a center-forward of the quality of Ronaldo or Romario. However, Fred made a case for himself during the Confederations Cup in 2013 when he scored a brace against Spain in the final.
Fred gained the confidence of Scolari to play up top and score goals. The problem is that if he is not scoring goals it is hard to consider that he had a good game, given that his other contributions could be performed by any forward on the bench.
Brazil's No. 9 is not the type of forward that will dribble a couple of players or become a playmaker if needed; he is purely a striker.
If he does not score or show something considerable better than in the last two games against Cameroon in the last group stage match, expect more playing time for Jo or someone else.
Rising Media Pressure
The pools of most Brazilian fan had anticipated three points for the Selecao against Mexico. And apparently the media also shared that consensus.
Once Brazil ended up losing two points against El Tri, the media didn't hesitate in letting them know how alarming the situation was.
The disappointed Brazilian fans' faces all over the country, which felt the tie as if were a loss and had to stand the Aztec fans celebrating in their home soil, were reflected in the newspapers and TV shows.
In Brazil, they expect the team to win all group stage matches. That is what is expected of the Pentacampeon—nothing else is acceptable—so what happened on Tuesday translates into pressure from the media and frustration from the fans.
Media pressure is not going to go away for Brazil this summer as they are expecting the host nation to play another four games after the group stage. And they not only want them to win, but to do so convincingly.
Neymar and Oscar's Consolidation or Fall
The 0-0 draw with Mexico meant that Brazil didn't score a single goal while playing a World Cup match in their home ground for the first time.
It also meant that Scolari's impressive eight World Cup games won in a row with the Selecao (2002 & 2014) came to an end.
Those positive streaks ended for many factors, one of them being the two most offensively talented players in this Brazil disappearing.
Neymar appeared sporadically, which is not good enough for what's expected from him. Yes, he did have three chances to score—one of them was a great build-up play in which Alves crossed a beautiful ball to Neymar's position, and another one came off a free kick—but he has to be more involved in the game and figure out how to break the opponent's defensive schemes.
Oscar has shown two faces in the two games played by Brazil so far. He was outstanding against Croatia, but he was below average against Mexico. The Chelsea playmaker needs to be more consistent; Brazil can't afford the luxury of Oscar being a ghost for another game.
Neymar and Oscar have a solid team behind them that also strengthens the offense, with Alves and Marcelo's incorporations on the wings and Thiago Silva's and David Luiz's contributions on the aerial game.
Both of them need to take advantage of the weapons available around them to shine or Brazil will likely fall. And it won't be Brazil's defense or the opponents’ 'keeper's performances that will be held culpable for such failure.