Brazil cruised to a 6-0 victory over Australia in Saturday's friendly in Brasilia in an impressive display of goalscoring skill, aerial prowess, midfield creativity and defensive hustle. Brazil's victory was all the more remarkable given the absence of Fred, Hulk, Oscar and Dani Alves due to injury, although replacements Jo, Bernard, Ramires and Maicon delivered stellar performances in their absence. Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari fielded his standard 4-3-3 formation with Ramires playing the role of Oscar as the attacking midfielder behind the attacking triumvirate of Neymar, Jo and Bernard. The match marked the first game played by the Selecao in Brazil since their 3-0 victory against Spain in the final of the Confederations Cup, and the hosts were eager to please their fans on independence day at Brasilia's Mané Garrincha Stadium.
Brazil dominated the proceedings throughout the entire game by winning the ball in midfield, maintaining possession and pressuring their opponents to the point where they could barely escape their own half. Scolari's team romped to victory on the back of six goals as follows:
In the 8th minute, Neymar found the space to float a cross to Bernard, who volleyed a shot that ricocheted off the post and fell to Jo, who tapped in the rebound.
In the 34th minute, Maicon slipped a pass to Bernard on the right flank, and the Shaktar Donetsk midfielder fired a cross that Jo dispatched by way of a two footed leap that displayed the poise of a center forward in the hottest of form.
In the 36th minute, a visionary pass from Ramires cut open the Australian defense and gave Neymar the opportunity to flick the ball past the keeper's left hand to make it 3-0.
In the 57th minute, substitute Maxwell found the head of Ramires, and the Chelsea man rewarded Scolari's decision to recall him to the Selecao with a goal from a powerful, leaping header.
In the 74th minute, Hernanes lobbed a pass over the Australian defense that Neymar crossed into the path of substitute Alexandre Pato, who deftly flicked the ball into the corner of the net to make it 5-0.
In the 84th minute, the Australian defense allowed Luiz Gustavo way too much space on the ball and the VfL Wolfsburg midfielder sent a rocket of a shot into the top right corner of the net to make it 6-0 for his first ever international goal.
Today's victory illustrated the following key points regarding the Selecao's evolution:
·Bernard may be the logical replacement for Hulk on the right flank, particularly if the latter continues to fail to find the back of the net. Bernard pressured the Australia defense with a sustained display of skill, speed and creativity. The Shaktar Donetsk winger lacks the physical presence of Hulk, but is clearly a viable alternative given his pace, dribbling ability and vision.
·Ramires proved that he represents another midfield option for Scolari with his assist for Neymar, goal and inspired overall play. Today, Ramires took over the role played by Oscar in a stunning illustration of Brazil's depth. Expect the competition for one of three spots in Scolari's midfield to intensify as the likes of Tottenham's Sandro and Liverpool's Lucas Leiva regain their form as well.
·Alexandre Pato's goal and Jo's performance allay fears that Brazil is excessively dependent on Fred's predatory instincts to supply them with goals. Pato's recovery of his fitness at Corinthians represents a boon for world football at large, and the 24-year-old striker may well find his return to form synergistically boosted by international duty.
Overall, today's game represented a phenomenal result for the Selecao. Neymar, in particular, delivered an impressive display in the number 10 shirt for Brazil by his illustrating his strengths as a team player in addition to a scorer of goals. Brazil next face a sterner test on Tuesday in their friendly against Portugal, the team that Luiz Felipe Scolari led to the European championship finals in 2004.
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