Brazil 1-1 Switzerland: Neymar needs to do more

Brazil’s attacking power is all about the left. The Canarinhos debut in the World Cup 2018 could have been a celebration of the associative football that Marcelo, Philippe Coutinho and Neymar can play on that side. But only being successful in the first 20 minutes also means that Tite’s squad is unbalanced and kind of predictable, if someone could label that sparkling trio as such.

Whenever Brazil holds the ball, the natural compass of the defensive line and the holding midfielders is to find Coutinho and Marcelo, who scored the highest sum of points in Twelve’s ratings.

When some force of destiny pushed the play to the right, Willian experienced again the solitude brought in the last friendlies by the company of the unimaginative Danilo. The Manchester City man replaced the injured Dani Alves, who did not make to the World Cup. The Chelsea arrow will dribble and cross, with a flare of the legendary Garrincha in his intentions; nevertheless, it never gets quite dangerous enough, as Swiss goalkeeper Sommer may tell you. But this is the pessimistic take.

The optimistic is to regard how this concentration of players on the left, with a wide-open man in the opposite flank, allows the infiltrations that almost scored in the first place, when Paulinho shot in a rebound deflected by Sommer. But it would scarcely happen again, thanks to the discipline show by the Swiss. And that deeply affected Neymar, who still seems to hold himself responsible for the success of the Brazilian team.

Old habits die hard: Neymar started the match dribbling and teasing his opponents, invoking a yellow card. Ruthless midfielder Behrami was unimpressed, and stopped him with loyal tackles. In the end, Neymar received 10 fouls without solving his card priority.

In the meantime, Brazil started to stay far away from the Swiss box: of their nine shots from outside the area, seven were done in second half, when the South-Americans lacked the skills to get closer and bring more risks to Sommer. This explains why a firestarter like Willian ranks lowly in Twelve’s attacking leaderboard, even below Danilo who at least began the moves at some point.

The fact that Steven Zuber’s goal came from a foul (hardly debatable, in my opinion) can be reassuring for some Brazilian fans. However, the Swiss forward had freedom enough to walk around the box in order to choose which defender to push. Although some will prefer to discuss the activation of VAR, it will be hard to ignore that the Brazilian zonal pressing did not work for that corner kick.

All things considered, Brazil had a slight advantage in ball possession, and suffered only two dangerous shots. But the individual errors surpassed the virtues. If repeated against Costa Rica, Gabriel Jesus’ mistakes will probably cost him his spot in the third match against Serbia, with a likely entrance of Roberto Firmino. He was far more aggressive in his brief time on the pitch against the Swiss – enough to be the best ranked in overall points per minute.

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