Match in a sentence
On a night that celebrated Ashley Cole and Ronaldinho’s 100th cap for their respected countries, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s second stint as Brazil manager started on a sour note as Brazil was unable to find their spark against a disciplined England side at Wembley.
- England started this match in a 4-3-3 with Wayne Rooney central, while Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck were on the flanks. The midfield three consisted of Steven Gerrard, Jack Wilshere and Tom Cleverley.
- Scolari’s had his side set up in a 4-2-2-2. Luis Fabiano and Neymar led the line with Oscar and Ronaldinho behind them, while Ramires and Paulinho shielded the back four.
- Brazil enjoyed a lot of possession in the first 20 minutes and their 4-2-2-2 looked something like a 4-2-4 as the front four were interchanging positions at will. Despite England not having a lot of the ball, it was clear that they were more of a 4-2-3-1 with Cleverley in an advanced position.
- In the 19th minute, Brazil was awarded a penalty kick, courtesy of a Wilshere handball. Normally Neymar is in charge of putting away spot kicks, but Ronaldinho grabbed the ball, hoping to score on his 100th appearance for Brazil. Unfortunately for the two-time Ballon D’Or winner, he was denied not once, but twice by Joe Hart. That miss summed up Ronaldinho’s quiet 45-minute appearance.
- England took the lead 7 minutes after Ronaldinho’s penalty miss, when Wilshere drove through the midfield and played a lovely ball to Walcott. Julio Cesar saved Walcott’s initial shot, but Rooney tapped in the rebound.
- What I found interesting was how both sides pressed one another. England dropped into a 4-1-4-1 when the Brazil defenders were on the ball and it forced them to concede possession or play the ball long. Whenever Brazil was able to play the ball into England’s half, they became a 4-5-1 and they stayed compact and defended well.
- Brazil pressed the England defenders occasionally and those were the times when England looked most vulnerable. It also didn’t allow Gerrard and Wilshere time to build from the midfield. The problem Brazil had was that the front three of Fabiano, Neymar and Ronaldinho didn’t do this enough. Oscar was busy tracking Ashley Cole and there was a gap between the three up front, which allowed Gerrard and Wilshere to stamp their authority on the game with the space provided.
- Another key component in this match was the fullbacks. Brazil has two fullbacks that love to go forward in Dani Alves and Adriano. Welbeck, Walcott, James Milner and Aaron Lennon did fantastic jobs in tracking back and preventing the width they were trying to provide. Brazil on the other hand had no cover for Adriano on the left side and it allowed Glen Johnson to get forward on several occasions to help out Walcott. Ramires did a good job in helping out Adriano, but with Cleverley more advanced, it gave Wilshere more space to penetrate. On the left hand side, Ashley Cole wasn’t able to free up space for Welbeck because Oscar did a great job in tracking his runs.
- To no surprise there were many second half changes, Leighton Baines and Frank Lampard replaced Cleverley and Cole. For Brazil, Fred, Lucas Moura and Arouca replaced Ronaldinho, Luis Fabiano and Ramires. Scolari also opted for a 4-2-1-3 with Moura, Fred and Neymar up top, and Oscar behind them.
- The front three pressed the England defenders whenever they got on the ball and the pressure eventually led to the equalizing goal. The pressure from the Brazil front four forced Gary Cahill to over touch the ball and Fred was able to smash his shot past Joe Hart, who ultimately had no chance. The pressure continued for the following five minutes and it resulted in England being unable to hold possession and Fred hitting the crossbar.
- Although Scolari changed his tactics, Neymar failed to track and help Adriano, and with the game opening up Walcott was able to thrive in a few 1v1 situations. Unfortunately for Brazil 11 minutes after equalizing, Arouca was unable to clear his lines and Rooney set up Lampard who thumped his shot past Cesar to make it 2-1.
- In the final quarter of the match, England attacked with caution, and Neymar and Oscar were allowed more time on the ball, but the Brazilians were unable to carve through a disciplined England side.
- Brazil had no cohesion going forward and tactically they were a mess. Despite the formation change, the wingers still weren’t disciplined enough to track back and with the front three so high up the pitch they lacked a cohesive shape. They only looked great when England were rarely caught out of position and when they pressed their defenders. The second half was merely left for auditions as Scolari has several issues going forward. Tonight Brazil looked like a team of 11 individuals, that were tactically nullified and that desperately lack leaders.
- England on the other hand, despite a few defensive mishaps, can build on this victory tonight. The midfield three of Wilshere, Gerrard and Cleverley was exceptional. Gerrard sitting deep allowed, Cleverley and Wilshere to go forward. The wingers did an exceptional job helping the fullbacks, by tracking back as they did going forward. Wilshere displayed why he’s a key piece to the puzzle for the future, as England has lacked a midfielder with his quality for a very long time. He did a great job carrying the ball from deep, his distribution was superb and like he does with Arsenal, he plays with passion. Tonight, he reminded why his presence is imperative in this England midfield.
- Jack Wilshere
- Steven Gerrard
- Theo Walcott