Brazil drew 0-0 against Venezuela on July 3 in a disappointing match for the Selecao that highlighted, once again, its inability to convert high percentage chances into goals despite a bevy of opportunities.
The attacking trio of Pato, Neymar and Robinho threatened convincingly throughout the first half. Pato hit the crossbar on the half-hour mark and Robinho was unfairly denied a penalty after slipping a ball by the keeper that was blocked by the shoulder of a lunging Venezuelan defender. Disappointingly for Brazil, Paulo Henrique Ganso failed to assert his authority on the game, and consequently the offensive initiative resulted in Neymar, Pato and Robinho returning into deep positions and running at the Venezuelan defense, or through wide play from Dani Alves and Andre Santos.
Just before the half, Neymar missed a golden opportunity with some space in front of goal but he curled the ball high of the top corner of the net. It was the first time that Pato, Robinho, Neymar and Ganso played together since the Brazil-USA friendly in August 2010, and while Brazil sparkled with some of the offensive vision and fluidity of the game against the USA, it lacked the clinical finishing that has begun to plague this revamped, post-World Cup 2010 team.
Pato was clearly the most dangerous and nimble footed of the three strikers, but he lacks the international experience and gravitas to take charge of the offensive component of the game, as does Neymar. Herein lies Brazil's quandary as a team loaded with promising young talent without a heavyweight striker to put the ball in the back of the net. That said, Mano is famous for building diamonds out of the rough as he did in Brazil with Gremio and Corinthians from 2005 onwards. Mano is also a master tactician and it will be interesting to see what adjustments he makes in advance of the crucial game against Paraguay on July 9. Expect the same squad with Neymar and Robinho positioned deeper, behind Pato, and thereby playing the attacking midfield role as a complement to Ganso until the Goose begins to find his fitness and form.