Cameroon vs. Brazil: 6 Things We Learned
Luiz Felipe Scolari's Brazil side came through its final group-stage game with a 4-1 victory over Cameroon in Brasilia courtesy of a first-half brace from star striker Neymar.
Though Joel Matip had grabbed an early equaliser for an improved Cameroon side, Brazil worked through the gears to win convincingly with plenty of energy to spare.
Next up for Brazil will be a second-round clash with Chile, and Scolari has plenty of issues to consider ahead of that encounter.
What, then, will he have learned on Monday night?
Fernandinho Can Improve the Selecao
Introduced at half-time in place of the disappointing Paulinho, Fernandinho immediately changed the balance of play and gave Brazil an air of composure in the middle of the pitch.
What's more, he showed a willingness to surge forward in a manner that his colleague should have and, as a result, was able to get himself on the scoresheet having run beyond Oscar ahead of him.
Many have been calling for the Manchester City player's inclusion from the start, and his contribution should have been enough to prove his worth to Coach Scolari.
Neymar's Performances Will Determine Brazil's Fate
Neymar moved back to the head of the race for the Golden Boot on Monday, scoring his second brace of the tournament to set his side en route to success.
The Barcelona player's record of 35 goals in 53 games is sensational, and his status within the side continues to build. He is now entirely irreplaceable.
In a side that can be entirely predictable, he is the biggest source of inspiration. Against Cameroon, having put his side on the front foot, he was willing to delve deep into that box of tricks.
Next out against Chile, he will face off with club colleague Alexis Sanchez. The winner of that battle will go a long way to settling the overall tie.
Scolari Needs to Stop Changing a Winning Setup
In the first two games of the World Cup, Scolari switched away from the 4-2-3-1 setup that had served his side so well for the past year in moving Neymar into a central role.
However, what the tie with Cameroon showed was that Brazil continue to function better when Neymar is used on the left flank, allowing Oscar to play in the No. 10 berth.
Neymar's linkup with Marcelo is an important feature of Brazil's play, and that has been missing in recent games. Later in the tournament, Brazil would be well-advised to stick to what they know is a winning solution.
Hulk's Poor Form Is Worrying
Scolari is inclined to stick with his favourites through thick and thin, but the wastefulness of out-of-form forward Hulk must be a real worry to the experienced international boss.
Too often Brazil's attacks came to an end at the feet of the Zenit forward, and in the second half, he had a chance to play in an unmarked Neymar but did not trust his right foot.
In Bernard and particularly Willian, Scolari has impressive options at his disposal on the bench. It is surely only so long before Hulk's form can no longer be tolerated.
Defensive Concentration Must Be Improved
Brazil may have beaten Cameroon fairly convincingly, but there were moments of disorganisation at the back that will worry Scolari ahead of a fixture with an impressive Chile side.
Thiago Silva was not at his imperious best, while both full-backs were on occasion caught out of position. But for the quick thinking of Julio Cesar, Cameroon could have bagged more than one goal on the night.
Scolari cannot afford such mistakes from now on, with the standard of opposition set to rise quickly. Chile, next up, will not be as forgiving as Volker Finke's Indomitable Lions.
Cameroon Need to Continue in This New Direction
Cameroon may have lost convincingly in the end, but the match was their best of the World Cup thus far in terms of both performance and attitude.
Given that the likes of Samuel Eto'o, Alex Song and Benoit Assou-Ekotto were either unavailable or left out, the West Africans can perhaps take heart from the fact they can survive without the squad's biggest egos.
Joel Matip, Stephane Mbia, Nicolas Nkoulou, Eric Choupo-Moting and Vincent Aboubakar provide a spine from which they can build, while there is emerging talent in the likes of Jean Marie Dongou, Macky Bagnack and Fabrice Olinga.
Perhaps key to Cameroon's next generation, though, will be convincing France-eligible talents such as Axel Ngando, Paul-Georges Ntep and Samuel Umtiti to declare their future to the Indomitable Lions.