Brazil 2-0 Mexico: Brazil start strongly but fade

June 20, 2013

“The opening suggested Brazil would win comfortably – but they spent the majority of the second half clinging onto a one-goal lead. Luiz Felipe Scolari kept the same XI that defeated Japan in the opening game. On the right flank, Jose Manuel de la Torre stuck with the duo that ended the defeat to Italy – Gerardo Flores on the wing and Hiram Mier at full-back, with winger Javier Aquino on the bench. Carlos Salcido switched from left-back to the centre of midfield, with Jorge Nilo coming into the side. Brazil started ferociously and pinned Mexico back into their own half, but their overall performance was disappointing.” Zonal Marking

Mexico continues frustrating, sluggish form at Confederations Cup
” There has been good news for Mexico during the Confederations Cup this week, but little of it has come from any of the match outcomes in Brazil. Victories for the USA over Honduras and Costa Rica over Panama have kept Mexico in the third automatic qualifying slot from the Concacaf hexagonal, but the team’s own form continues to frustrate. There is nothing shameful about losing to Italy and Brazil and if that were all there was to it, there’d be little reason for concern. The problem is context. Mexico has now won just one of its last 11 games — admittedly eight draws mean it was unbeaten in nine before the tournament — but the sense of optimism stimulated by its success in last July’s Olympic Games has all but evaporated. The crispness and rhythm of the team’s performance in London last summer has been replaced by sluggishness, despite the fact that six of the players who faced Brazil on Wednesday were in that same Olympic squad.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

“Neymar produced a commanding performance as Brazil secured their place in the Confederations Cup semi-finals with victory at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza. This was not the dominant performance that some had expected but it was Brazil’s first competitive victory over Mexico in nine years and a third successive win under head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.” BBC

Violent protests mar Brazil-Mexico match in Fortaleza

June 20, 2013

“Brazilian police have fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse some protesters in the city of Fortaleza, as unrest continues across the country. At least 30,000 people rallied in the north-eastern city ahead of the Confederations Cup game with Mexico. The unrest was sparked by transport price hikes in Sao Paulo but it has now grown into broader discontent over poor public services and corruption.” BBC (Video)

Italy 2-1 Mexico: Italy excel down the left flank

June 20, 2013

“Italy dominated for the majority of the match, and Mario Balotelli was a fitting matchwinner. Cesare Prandelli selected a 4-3-2-1 system, using Juventus duo Claudio Marchisio and Emanuele Giaccherini behind lone striker Balotelli. Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre used a standard 4-2-3-1 system, playing Giovani dos Santos behind Javier Hernandez. Mexico had some bright moments, particularly through the lively Dos Santos – but Italy were the better side, and created more goalscoring opportunities.” Zonal Marking

“Italy completed a superb fightback to knock Japan out of the Confederations Cup and book their place in the semi-finals in a hugely entertaining game. Japan went 2-0 up via Keisuke’s Honda’s penalty and Shinji Kagawa’s strike. But Italy responded in some style when Daniele De Rossi headed in before Atsuto Uchida’s own goal and Mario Balotelli’s penalty made it 3-2.” BBC

Spain 2-1 Uruguay: Del Bosque changes his midfield structure, Uruguay are disorganised

June 20, 2013

“Spain’s level of dominance should have resulted in a much more emphatic victory. Xabi Alonso is unavailable for the Confederations Cup because of injury, and in his absence Vicente del Bosque changed the structure of his side, using Sergio Busquets as the sole holder, moving Xavi Hernandez into the role he plays at Barcelona, and introducing Cesc Fabregas as a number ten who could drive forward at the opposition defence. Roberto Soldado played upfront. Oscar Tabarez left Diego Forlan on the bench, with Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez upfront. Gaston Ramirez and Cristian Rodriguez were the attacking midfielders, with Walter Gargano in the middle. Spain’s possession dominance was astonishing in the first period, as Uruguay struggled to get out of their own half.” Zonal Marking

Hitting a Wall: East German teams lag behind their Western counterparts

June 20, 2013

“Germany underwent Reunification in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. East and West Germany became one and it was a time of great joy for Germans, especially those who had lived on the Eastern side of the border. With it came reunification for German football, with the members of the East German Oberliga rejoining their Western counterparts. However, at least in this 2012-13 edition of the Bundesliga, there are no teams from what was formerly known as East Germany. So what has contributed to the continued inability of the East German clubs to compete consistently with teams from the West?” Outside of the Boot