Italy vs Brazil

Italy vs Brazil Preview: A Classic To Conjure Memories Of 1982?

Italy may have already secured their place in the next round, but their final Group C encounter with Brazil still promises to be an intriguing clash as the latter also hope to advance. The Seleção will need to better Australia’s result against Jamaica to guarantee they remain in the competition, a tall order given the form of their next opponent.

Having reached the World Cup for the first time in 20 years, Italy have been one of the most surprising teams in France this summer, notching wins over Jamaica and Australia to sit comfortably atop the table with one round of matches remaining.

Milena Bertolini has been excellent thus far, the coach deploying her side in a basic 4-4-2 formation but constantly shifting her players around in order to exploit opposition weaknesses in each fixture. Read More

Australia vs. Brazil Preview: A Yellow Kind Of Play

Who would’ve said that Australia would lose their first match at the Women’s World Cup against Italy, when the Italians were making their debut? A very poor start for the Matildas. Not quite disastrous, and given that the better third-placed teams qualify for the next round, there is still a long way to go. But Australia now need to beat Brazil on Thursday to retain hope of topping Group C. And that won’t be easy.

Against Jamaica, Brazil were obviously the better team and won by an easy 3-0. Brazil might not be among the main challengers for this World Cup, but they showed enough here to suggest they will be dangerous. And all without Marta. At the very least, they’ll be delighted to have ended their nine-game losing run.

Comparing the two sides with Twelve’s tools, we can see Brazilian striker Cristiane leading with 3,192 points. Mostly because of her three goals scored, as she offered a poor production in attack actions and didn’t have a single important defensive action.

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Brazil 1-2 Belgium: Luck helps those who dare

Some defeats take time to produce a fit explanation. Within the first fifteen minutes after the Brazil 1-2 Belgium match, I wrote an article in Portuguese in which chance, especially Fernandinho’s own goal in the 13th minute, was determinant to the whole outcome of the match, notwithstanding the clever moves of Belgium’s coach, Roberto Martínez. By deploying Kevin De Bruyne in a central position in his offensive line, with Lukaku and Hazard menacing Marcelo and Fágner respectively, he found a way to stop the Brazilian build-up, which is usually concentrated on the flanks.

But that opinion seemed lame to many. The tide of counter-opinions came strong and fierce to maintain that Tite was the one to blame, being tamed in a tactical knot. He was stubborn with keeping Gabriel Jesus on the field, and took too much time to make substitutions that could neutralize the danger that came from the inside. Had Tite managed it well, they say, De Bruyne’s second goal would not have happened so easily, and Brazil could have had a chance.
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Belgium beat off Brazilian fightback

Belgium managed to fight off a late Brazilian resistance to beat the Seleção 2-1 in the Kazan Arena.

Roberto Martinez decided to reward his super substitutes from the previous match against Japan by starting Nacer Chadli and Marouane Fellaini instead of Mertens and Carrasco, in a move that was highly praised after their excellent performances last Monday.

Brazil started the game brightly dominating possession and Belgium got lucky when Brazil nearly took the lead in the 8th minute when Thiago Silva latched onto a corner but could not get the correct contact and the ball instead hit the post from 4 yards out.

The Red Devils took the lead in the 13th minute after Fernandinho scored an own goal from a corner. The goal came against the run of play which helped the Belgian side’s morale a lot.

In the 31st minute, Romelu Lukaku drove forward from his own half brilliantly beating a number of Brazilian midfielders. Once he reached midway through the Brazilian half he played the ball off to Kevin De Bruyne who let fire from outside the box giving Belgium a 2-0 lead. KDB hit the ball so sweetly that it didn’t rotate in the air as it was fired into the bottom left corner.

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World Cup 2018, Last 16 Review

While we had been producing daily reviews during the group stage, in the first knock-out round we had writers covering every match so it wasn’t necessary. You can find our ‘Round of 16’ collection here, and we’ll just take a quick look at some of the overall top performers here.

The Sergios dominated at the top of the charts; Ramos of Spain earned the most points in total, whereas Aguero of Argentina topped the points per minute ladder.

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed something in Ramos’ dashboard – namely a penalty scored in the shootout. These go into the players’ tallies, so anyone whose side didn’t settle their tie in 120 minutes can have a bit of an advantage here.

Unless they miss that is. Right, Jordan?

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Brazil 2-0 México: The elegant gentleman strikes again

Brazil faced Mexico with awareness. Juan Carlos Osorio is a master of the unpredictable, and his mutant team is able to show different faces in the field. What never changes is the velocity with which they exchange passes and positions.

México came with high pressing commanded by the trident Lozano-Chicharito-Vela. It gave Brazil a hard time for the initial 20 minutes, especially because they inverted sides when attacking, with many diagonal balls. However, Thiago Silva and Miranda stood steadily through the storm, and when it stopped, it became clear that the match was about Brazil getting the spot in the quarterfinals.

That made an Argentinian on Twitter write this funny conclusion after half an hour:

“México is that poor guy that fell in love with his friend but never dares to tell her. His sneaking attempts are in vain, he knows he can’t make it, yet never surrenders, while Brazil is this elegant gentleman who conquers her only by smiling.”

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Serbia 0-2 Brazil: From conductor Coutinho to infiltrator Paulinho

From Costa Rica to Serbia, Brazil lived some tension. Douglas Costa, the game-changer in the previous match, suffered with an injured thigh and could not be aligned in Moscow. Coach Tite had to put on the same line-up from the first match – an XI that needed more balance, insofar as this team tends towards the left flank.

What the Brazilian coach could have never expected was the backache of Marcelo, which froze his moves early in the game. He was replaced by Atlético de Madrid’s Filipe Luís, who is a more defensive fullback. Regarding Serbia, the main Brazilian concerns were the high crosses to Aleksandr Mitrović and the average height of the team, especially compared to the right fullback Fagner, who’s a short guy at 1.68m.

The screenplay was quite close to the one we saw against Switzerland, with Brazil’s sparkling moves intimidating the Serbian defence. Later on, after Marcelo’s exit, it took some time for the Canarinhos to regain enthusiasm. However, there were no extreme risks run in that period. Discretely, Philippe Coutinho took the baton, conducting the build-up, even though he made many mistakes while dribbling: he got the 3rd place in Twelve’s error ranking.

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World Cup 2018, Day 14 Review: Deutschland viertes? Mein Gott!

Hmm, where shall we start today? How about with Germany’s worst World Cup performance since 1938, would that interest you?

Before we look at today’s game specifically, consider this: Germany’s expected goal difference in their three games (in order) has been +0.51, +0.80 and a remarkable +1.91 today. Three games is a small sample, and clearly finishing has torpedoed Germany here. Never has that been reflected more than in their game with Korea Republic.

Our man of the match for the game was Mats Hummels, and that feels a choice which passes the eye test. However, the biggest portion of his points tally came from shots.

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A new role for Roberto Firmino in Brazil

There is no centre forward who works as hard to win back the ball as Roberto Firmino. He sets the tempo for Liverpool but he is so much more than just a workhorse. He gets into positions where many forwards would go for glory but Bobby is unselfish.

And yesterday we watched a new chapter on that story when Firmino entered for Brazil against Costa Rica; not as Gabriel Jesus’s substitution, as usual, but as Paulinho’s replacement.

Playing in a 4-1-4-1 formation Paulinho has many defensive skills, but he is well known for his entries in the six yard box and his potential as a striker. There is even a joke in the Brazilian team saying Paulinho is the true centre forward of the Seleção.

Unfortunately, the Barcelona midfielder did not have a good day, and the Brazilian team felt his poor offensive contribution. He was also marked by the good defensive job of Costa Rica and their line of five.

Taking a look at Firmino’s work in the Premier League with Liverpool, we can see a typical centre forward action: offensive presence in the opponents’ area and defensive presence is his area, to assist with set piece balls.

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World Cup 2018, Day 9 Review: Granit Xhakattack

For the first time in this World Cup, we have an expert view on all three of a day’s matches, with Brazil (here), Nigeria and Serbia (here) covered at length. So we’ll take a brief look at the other three sides from day nine here.

Costa Rica nearly, nearly kept Brazil at bay for the duration of their match, but the Seleção finally broke through in stoppage time, and added a second goal for good measure shortly afterwards. That the Ticos got so close was thanks in no small part to their goalkeeper, Keylor Navas.

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