Goalless draws have been an uncommon result in the World Cup so far and one would not have expected the host Brazil would fail to score. Although one single point ensures they top group A entering the last round of group match, their lacklustre performance leaves the nation wonder whether their dream of lifting the trophy in home soil is still realistic.
Nevertheless, Brazil allowed them to settle, and when they have, Rafael Marquez, four-time captain of Mexico in World Cup, rightly coordinated the defence with offside traps, which at time looked risky, but proved to be effective against the immobile Fred.
The secret to break offside traps is penetrating runs from midfield. Paulinho was being tasked with this role but had largely been disappointing, similar to his debut season in England. Ramires continued his failure to replicate the electric performance in Chelsea and was substituted promptly after half time, with little surprise.
|Ochoa was simply faultless|
The absence of Hulk meant that both fullbacks were the sole source of width in Brazil's attack, but Dani Alves was far from productive and from time to time became a liability in offence. Brazil's best chance in the first half came from a header from an unlikely source --- Neymar, but Guillermo Ochoa picked up from where he left off to deny Neymar and more crucially, his determination prevented Brazil from taking advantage of a poorly organised offside trap that saw four Brazilians surrounding the goalkeeper following a freekick.
On the other side, Mexico also could not get their key threats going. Giovani Dos Santos was often outmuscled, so did Oribe Peralta. Although David Luiz still occasionally went eccentric, Thiago Silva was as solid as ever that Mexico could only threaten with long shots. Hector Herrera's attempts had got Julio Cesar sweating and with time went on, confidence within the Mexicans were growing fast.
The introduction of Jo all of a sudden brought Brazil some energy. Neymar thought he broke the deadlock finally, but Ochoa was one again stood between his left foot volley and the back of the net. Late in the game, Ochoa made sure he bagged the man of the match award with a brilliant save to deny the unmarked Thiago Silva.
It is true that you don't necessarily tune your team to be on full gear from the first day of the four weeks tournament, but Brazil looked worryingly relaxed, uninterested and unmotivated. Marcelo would have further disgusted the supporters for not standing strong against a soft challenge and let go of a wonderful opportunity late in the match. Even when Scolari were desperate for more intensity to be displayed, they never delivered.
|Will he still get the call?|
It is unlikely their journey stops at group stage. To advance further, Scolari might have to re-evaluate his best eleven. With no better option, Fred is still the no.9 but Jo might deserve more playing time. Paulinho has so far been poor, prompting the questions why Fernandinho is still yet to log his first minute of action.
Brazil also needs Oscar to be at his best. When Oscar appears as a potent threat, he forces opponents to divert focus on Neymar and thus brings more life to the attack. Oscar's form has dropped tremendously since February. If Scolari is yet to determine who is his deputy, Willian deserves to be auditioned in the final group game against Cameroon.
Brazil has started the tournament in a way that they could only get better. Whether they can rediscover the form last summer is yet to be seen.