Categorized | Analysis, Neymar

The Brazil Primer: When All You Have is a Neymar…

…everything looks like magic.

H/T @Emenderk

Confession: I haven’t actually had a need to analyze any of the matches from a tactical point of view. This WC has been so entertaining that I’ve just been taking it in, inhaling the sights and sounds and drama — basically everything– in a sort of fugue state. Spain, Italy, England, Ivory Coast, Ghana all out in the first round? Omg. Messi? Omg. Neymar? Omg. The sheer amount of comebacks? Omg. Suarez bit someone? Omg–well, he’s done it before. Costa Rica’s everything? Omg. And so on and so forth. I can’t even get down all the Omg-s I want to because there are too many, to say nothing about the Oh Nos that have been uttered. Everything’s sunshine and roses for this football fan. No need to add anything.

But then CBC – the official broadcaster of the WC in Canada and the company we Canadians pay our taxes to (like The BBC in the UK) – decided to introduce this incredible multistream feature on their website that allows you to see the regular TV stream, two streams following one player on each team, two streams following the coach of each team, and a tactical stream. All at the same time. The same time.

How can I not get in on that action?

So what you guys will get is Brazil from the point of view of this CBC tactical stream.

How every Brazil formation is shown (H/T Zonal Marking)

Brazil essentially play with four forwards, two defensive midfielders, and the usual backline of marauding fullbacks and strong center backs. Sure, we can get into the nuts and bolts of how they move around but that’s the basis of it.

I find it curious when I look at the Brazil lineups and see them put Oscar in the hole behind Fred. In actually, he’s often shuffled to the left wing and plays the role of both that and left midfielder. Neymar, who tends to operate in a free role, is in a situation similar to Messi’s where he drops deeps to get the ball. Fred is there in theory to spearhead the attack but is in reality like one of those toy arrows that have suction cups at the end instead of a pointy end. Ramires is all about the thug life does the same as Oscar on the right to considerably less effect; Hulk has more success but has trouble passing instead of shooting – in other words, the unselfish portion. So the formation IMO looks sorta like this:


But on the subject of Brazilian forwards and unselfishness, they don’t really defend. They stay up field when Brazil loses the ball with the justification that when Brazil win the ball back they’ll be ready to counter attack. The obvious flipside of this is that there are less Brazilian to defend. Take this corner they had to defend against Mexico:


Neymar and Fred are the two players up field. (Oscar and Ramires – who have the joint role of left and right midfielders, remember – have dropped back to help defend the corner.) If you’re curious that’s David Luiz at the top of the box.

Now a Mexican defender actually pulls away from Neymar and Fred and shuffles to the top the box. David Luiz has to follow the Mexican player he was marking who was previously at the top of the box but has now drifted away to the right. That leaves that Mexican defender open. What happens next is Neymar actually bolts back to mark that player.


Mexico get nothing out of this corner, really. But it was just interesting to see Neymar take initiative and come back to defend, even though he doesn’t have to. His entire role in his Brazil team is to “make things happen and help the team”, something vague like that, but he saw in that moment that the better idea was to come back and mark that open player. Just something I found cool and thought I’d highlight.

But seriously: What’s up with that hole where the center of the midfield should be?

Scolari wants athletes in his midfield, runners and those that will work hard. He’s not interested in making it a place of contention, rather he’s relinquished that area entirely and has moved a lot of the play to the wings. Often you see the forward of the wings cross the ball to the opposite wing, these huge cross-field balls that elude almost everyone, because there is no player in the center – like, say, Kroos for Germany – that can link the ball from one side to the other.

Of the two defensive midfielders, Paulinho is the one that goes forward and he sits in the spot between whoever’s RW (Ramires or Hulk) and Alves. Luiz Gustavo doesn’t do the same on the left, though; instead, he sits in front of the CBs. That increases Oscar’s load on the left considerably, as Marcelo still bombs forward, and so Oscar’s attacking threat is diminished. For example, Brazil get a corner against Mexico.


That’s Oscar at the bottom left (in red) occupying the area where the Brazil LB should be; but because Marcelo has moved up to help the offensive during the corner, Oscar has to defend his space. This happened many times against Mexico and, imo, was a real factor in the 0-0 outside Ochoa – or should I say 8a, amirite? – because Oscar was always dangerous the few times he was able to run at the Mexican defense.

I think Oscar is a brilliant footballer with a clear sense of responsibility and a high footy ‘IQ’ – he knows Marcelo would be at risk of being overrun and unlike Ramires who is simply a ‘hard worker’ and doesn’t really have much to add in the attack, Oscar has much more to offer up front that he’s sacrificing for more balance on the wings. I hope Scolari finds a way to get Oscar off the wing and into the center because he’s really being wasted there.

What’s also interesting about Brazil is how often there is a broken formation with a bunch of forwards and a bunch of defenders, and nothing linking the two together unless Neymar drops deep or Oscar pulls central. Loads of space between the lines.

But let’s talk about the wing play.

They’ve ditched the midfield for it so it has to be good, right? Well, it’s not bad I guess. What’s cool is you can clearly see how they position themselves on tactical stream. There’s an outer 6 and an inner 4.


And in case you don’t see it I’ll draw strange shapes to show the distinction.


Among the inner 4 of Neymar, Fred, Paulinho and Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho just hangs around the right and when the opportunity presents itself (like the freak occurance Fred holds up the ball with his back to goal to lay the ball off at the top of the box to an onrushing midfielder) he crashes the box, sometimes Luiz Gustavo even joins in. Neymar often drops deep on the left to link up with Oscar and get something going. Fred retains his suction cup arrow role at the front of attack.

The outer 6 are Oscar, Marcelo, David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Alves, and Hulk/Ramires. That’s where the majority of Brazil’s build up play comes from.

What about Fernandinho and Hernanes?

Good question. Fernandinho would be a massive help in terms of midfield play and Hernanes in particular would be an asset both offensively and defensively. They’d both lessen the load on Oscar and Neymar to create something out of nothing, while giving Brazil more control in the game. But their on-pitch abilities have nothing to do with why they don’t play and everything to do with Felipao and his concept of ‘family’.

See, the World Cup is a short, intense couple of weeks where players are thrown together with little time to get to familiar with one another to win a trophy that means so much to so many people. With so little training and so much pressure coaches tend to go with the players they trust, the ones that are willing to go above and beyond for him, a close-knit group. We’ve seen this with Del Bosque with Spain, Sabella with Argentina, Prandelli with Italy, and more. It’s quite common. But with Felipao it comes to the detriment of his team’s quality as well. Fred and Jo are simply not good – but they’re part of Scolari’s family. You can go through the team and have that same excuse for many of the players. This current Brazil team is certainly close off the pitch, but on the pitch is the biggest question and they haven’t exactly passed with flying colours.

When all you have is a Neymar

So I know someone who has passed the on-the-pitch question with flying colours and his name rhymes with Reymar. He’s put this team on his back and it’s pretty unreal what he’s doing under so much pressure. Before Barcelona even signed him, I was worried the pressure to perform for his country on home soil would crush him in a Bojanesque manner and we’d have to deal with the repercussion. True, that could still happen, but no one can say Neymar hasn’t shown up. In fact Neymar must make up the basis of Scolari’s game plan which goes:

1. Pass the ball to Neymar

2. ????

3. Brazil score

4. Repeat until Brazil win the game.

Will wing play and individual brilliance be enough to overcome fanatical bielsismo?

That’s my main question for Brazil v Chile. Sampaoli is a rabid disciple of Bielsa (he was the other guy who was with Pep during the now-famous meeting they had with the great man at his house)  Against a team like Spain, Brazil would be quite well matched IMO since they’ve already let go of the midfield and their strongest play comes from the wings. But against Chile who have their own marauding wingbacks in Isla and Mena, they’re more evenly matched. I’d actually say Brazil might even be a little out-matched because Chile with Vidal have the stronger midfield. (Not talking man-for-man but tactically). Chile’s 3-man defense, high backline, and aggressive, almost suicidal, pressing will mean Brazil will have to be alert from the get-go if they don’t want to concede an early goal, especially if Chile really press Paulinho and Luiz Gustavo. That could end really badly for Brazil.

Just look at how Chile attack a corner (against Spain):


That’s all three CBs in Spain’s half. (Yes, that black dot at the top of the picture is our new GK Bravo.)  This Chilean team are bonkers and I love ’em.

Those Chilean fullbacks

If you wanna know how bonkers – or how much they’ve embrace the total offense approach – you just need to see how they counter. Chile wins the ball in Spain’s half.


During this counter attack against Spain the two players furthest forward weren’t attackers. They weren’t even midfielders. It was Isla and Mena, the defenders.


Sure, they didn’t score but it was enough to make Casillas pull out an Iker-face – true, true, it didn’t take much to do that anymore, but still. Iker-face.

Having said all that, the individual quality of Brazil, of Oscar and especially Neymar, can’t be discounted. Brazil have a good defensive base (mistakes, limited and/or overlapping skill sets aside), and they can take advantage of Chile’s high backline with numbers (even if it’s because said numbers don’t defend) during a counter attack. If Chile end up narrow somehow, they’ll be in real danger of getting overrun in the wings, but I assume Sampaoli will do something about that.

Anyway, I’m expecting a good game. If it goes to penalties after a 0-0 grind…


[As per usual, any and all corrections are welcome. I might be slow to respond, just a heads up, but there will be answer, I promise. Also, let me know if the pictures are too big (rip mobile users). I’ll resize them.]

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163 Responses to “The Brazil Primer: When All You Have is a Neymar…”

  1. njwv says:

    God damn this is good. And why I prefer the cheaper seats above the goal when I watch soccer live.

  2. I am not sure about this Saurez rumours. But if its is true then we are doing the same mistake again and again. He is more of a No.10. We saw what happened with Sanchez there?

  3. fotobirajesh says:

    Love this by Sanchez;

    Reporter : Whom you are worried the most on brazil clash, neymar or oscar…???

    Sanchez : REFEREE… Wanna stop him somehow from scoring

  4. fotobirajesh says:, Thanks Kevin for the above link in the previous post. Good article.

    But doesnt that article, and all of us too, ignore the fact that Messi created maximum chances for Barca last season, 20 plus more than the second placed Cesc. Are we all happy only when we see Messi score from every ball. I saw some other stat a month back in another blog which said, a clear proof of barca trying to avoid Messidependencia, the no. of passes received by Messi had gone down considerably, compared to the previous seasons.
    Still he is the top scorer, second in assists and top in creating chances. This inspite of being marked by 2 or more all the time.

    No player in this world are marked like him. Even in the WC, no player is marked like Messi. One reason, why without Messi our attack looks even better is because teams defend us differently with or without Messi. In that way, it is better Messi is not playing as our forwards will see more space.

    I dont know about Suarez. I would rather like to see Barca signing a good CB, and then think about upgrading our already superior attack.

  5. norden says:

    Great article, Kari. Thanks!

  6. TITO says:

    Discussing we or not, wanting or not, it seems that the club despite all the fuss about the incident (if we are to believe the rumors) is still very much IN to buy Suarez.
    Which in that case, at least for me, leads to another think about:
    Will we back our club and him if he plays for us, or it’s going to be a wannabe marriage between his time in our shirt and the fans – us.
    Despite the obvious problem that he has, i will still welcome him if we get him on a cheap.

  7. KEVINO17 says:

    Kari – great article.
    On the Suarez issue – yes, he scores lots of goals. But how many goal scorers does barca need. Neymar, Messi, Suarez… Who are going to be the hewers of water and the choppers of wood. Who is going to carry the ammo up to the big guns? Who is going to defend the fort? I know Suarez is a worker (not just with his teeth) but it seems to me a recipe for a broken team.

    • Peter says:

      That’s assuming the club decides to not reinforce the defence and that the tactical scheme involves Suarez, Neymar and Messi just waiting for a perfect ball to come to them.

      An assumption, you may want to know, is fallacious. Messi has been the greatest chances creator this season in La Liga, of the whole team, by a great margin. He has created 75 chances, 11 of which were assists. Fabregas managed to create 58 chances, of which 13 were assists. Iniesta’s count is 7 out of 52. Xavi’s count is 2 out of 47.


      Further food for thought:

      Yes, yes, “stats don’t show the whole picture”, I know. But you might want to ask yourself, why is that over a whole season and more than three thousand minutes of play the bringers of wood Xavi and Iniesta each have created barely two thirds of the chances that the recipient of balls Suarez, and why is that he has more assists when they have Messi, Neymar, Pedro and Alexis as the recipients of their passes instead of Sterling and Sturridge?

      Here’s one thing which would suggest Fernando Llorente may be a much better idea for a point striker – he is a beast in the air, scoring 7 goals, wins the most air duels of Suarez, Higuain and Benzema. At 1.95m he is as tall as than The Zlatan, taller than Pique, David Luiz, Pepe, Ramos, Varane, Miranda and Godin. His presence in both boxes would provide reinforcement, and the fact that crosses that reach him would be real threat would force the opposition to both guard him closely(which means less attention and more space for Messi) and push wider in order to prevent crosses from the likes of Adriano, Neymar, Alexis and lest we forget, Dani Alves.

      I would suggest that people look at the goals that Neymar, Messi and Alexis have scored so far in the World cup. and what do they have in common.

      • Gekko64 says:

        well that assist/chances data seems consistent with their position on the pitch so its value is debateable imo, of course the ones that are more tasked with creating chances will create chances 😉

        I like Llorente and I’m also pleased that Luis Enrique declared Adriano unsellable :)

  8. Kxevin says:

    Love it, Kari. Jealous of your CBC thoroughness. It strikes me that this is the year of the superstar at this WC. Neymar is carrying Brazil, Messi is carrying Argentina, Chile will go as far as Sanchez can take them.

    Your analysis makes clear what most of us suspected. Gotta do one for Argentina next!

    • Kari says:

      Certainly all the stars of each team have come to play and have had a huge impact
      Chile is a bit more balanced than Arg or Brazil who rely inordinately on Di Maria + Messi to create and Masche for defense, and Neymar-Oscar respectively.

      I’ll try and do one for Argentina but they don’t even have a system. It’s looking pretty dire but they lucked out with their side of the draw. Beat the Swiss and they face US or Belgium then it’s the semis.

  9. Kxevin says:

    Kari kicked ass on this piece. Show it some respect, please. Don’t treat it like an excuse to type the equivalent of, “And another thing about that Suarez/Mathieu/whomever transfer.”

    What DO people think about not only the Brazil tactics, but Argentina, Chile? Who is most likely to hoist the big trophy? Let’s hear it!

    • hansh says:

      You don’t understand, Kxevin. If I could analyze tactical matchups enough to answer your questions and engage in discussion, I wouldn’t be so excited for Kari’s piece 😀

      A team on its own, I can grasp. But put them up against other players and I lost track completely of who’s trying to do what and whether or not they’re succeeding.

  10. Valdemar II says:

    According to the betting lines Chile are big underdogs in this match, obviously based on something other than the group stage performance of the two teams. Brazil could definately be overrun, and my question is if a counter-attack with Fred and Hulk has enough bite?

    As mentioned that is a great camera angle, much better than usual angle if one wishes to understand the game. The viewer should more often have the possibility to customize the broadcast, I wouldn’t mind having a volume-switch for the commentators.

    • Kari says:

      That’s a good question. Personally I don’t think so. Fred can’t score even 3 feet from goal, Hulk likewise (tho tbf I’m basing that off his miss vs Cameroon haha).

  11. PrinceYuvi says:

    That’s a fabulous article.
    You’re a footy genius, kari.
    Thanks for commiting your time to pen out such fun stuff.

    • Kari says:

      That’s very kind, thanks! :) But I’m no genius. I just had to share this lovely stream. You see so much from this perspective. Really eye opening.

  12. Kari says:

    General thanks for reading to all of you!

  13. kosby says:

    Kari, appreciate the effort to compile this article. It seems to me that Brazil, Argentina and Chile are teams that dont have a lot of control over the match (unlike the Spain that we’ve been watching the past 6 years). But all 3 of them have a lethal attack. Also, both Brazil and Argentina seem to have to cope with atleast one forward who is not pulling their weight…Fred for Brazil and Higuain/Aguero for Argentina. Seems like this gives Chile the upper hand. However both Netherlands and Germany seem to have more control over their matches. I classify these teams into 2 groups – one with Brazil/Argentina/Chile and the other with Netherlands/Germany. It would be really interesting to see how these groups play each other.

    Neymar, Messi and Alexis have all shone at the world cup and we are lucky to have them as our forward line. Trick is how to get them to play together. Here’s hoping Lucho has a trick up his sleave.

    • Kari says:

      Thanks, kosby. I agree with the classification of the two groups, only I’d add Chile to the NED/GER group as Chile has control in games but can become chaotic at times while GER is on the other side of the spectrum (being in complete control but often need a spark to get them going). It’s definitely a contrast of styles and that’s what makes this WC so exciting.

      I don’t care much about all this tranfer tall but Alexis should not be sold, period. Use Pedro if you want a €€€ + a player deal. An Alexis so close to his prime should never get away from us.

  14. barca96 says:

    Just got back. Will read it later but why did you write an article on Brazil? Btw, Sampaoli once wrote an apology letter to Bielsa for losing a match. I’m a massive fan of Sampaoli. I love the energy he brings from the touchline and of course for what he does to the team.

  15. barca96 says:

    Hopefully our boys won’t be flopping all over the pitch today (looking at Neymar and Alexis).

  16. norden says:

    If a sign of trophy winning team is that it can win games even if playing unconvincingly, then Argentina is a big favorite, at the moment.

    • Kari says:

      That’s true, but I just find they’re so awful in transition defense and leave too much to Gago that they’ll be found out by the strong teams. Sabella’s gotta do something because Agüero and Higuain are so off form the game plan right now is limited to “Messi; do something!!”

  17. Mano says:

    Kari seriously awesome work. And totally agree with you that Brazil will struggle if they keep relying only on the brilliance of oscar and ney ney. Also please do a similar piece on Argentina. Again very good work. Try writing more often though.

    • Kari says:

      I know, I know. I always feel bad when I haven’t posted in a while but I’ll try to contribute more!

      Like I said above, I’ll try doing Argentina if I find the time. Thanks for the kind words, Mano.

      • hansh says:

        Hey, don’t feel like you have to write more often just because we enjoy it when you do – writing is difficult and time-consuming! Even when you know what topic you want to address, it’s so hard to turn an idea into a full article. Not to mention that we are all busy with the rest of our lives. You should write for this blog because it’s a worthwhile space for you, no matter how much we rave about your posts and ask for more.

        Anyway. My favorite line of this post is “This Chilean team are bonkers and I love ‘em.” Seconded! I watch them play and kind of think, no, this can’t be right, what are they trying to do out there…. And because of that, I want them to go through. Not sure they will, though, given Brazil’s attacking talent. This match-up feels to me like it belongs in a later round!

        I hope you’re enjoying being Canadian because from south of your border I sure am jealous.

        • Kari says:

          This is so sweet that if it were a tweet I’d favorite twice somehow. Thanks so much, hansh. The only reason I feel guilty is because of the great commenters here. :mrgreen:

          “This match-up feels to me like it belongs in a later round” Completely agree. It’s kinda unfair that so many of the South American teams are in the same side of the bracket. Only Argentina is on the other side. What’s even worse is the winners of the Bra-Chi and Uru-Col face each other in the quarters. No! Non! Nein! But alas.

          Being Canadian is pretty cool but CBC had to justify the tax money with this WC coverage. It’s a cruel place if you ain’t into hockey but it’s getting better, haha.

          • raj says:

            Talking of bad places to be football fans, I live in India. Or should I say the worst places to be football fans.

          • hansh says:

            I don’t twitterify, but I’m gonna count those as my first two honorary favorites 😀 Guess I’ve got the hang of this twitter business.

            I’m pretty dismayed that four CONMEBOL teams are all in the same quarter, because they’ll be knocking each other out while the European teams (probably) continue to advance. Nothing against Europe, per se, but I have to show love to the Americas and I default to supporting the underdog if I don’t have a vested interest in a match-up. Colombia for World Cup champion 2014?

            At least CONCACAF is showing well!

  18. Doug says:

    Just when I think I know a lot about the sport, I come on this forum and find I know very little.

    This board is hard to beat when it comes to the collective knowledge from some posters.

    Thanks Kari – that was an EXCELLENT read.

    • Kari says:

      Join the club! I learn a lot from BFB as well, which is what makes writing here so worth it. Thank you for the excellent comment, Doug. It means a lot. :)

  19. georgjorge says:

    Thanks a lot, Kari! Even though I don’t care that much for the Brazilian team, I learned quite a lot from your post – and that’s a feat given that I don’t know much about tactics and formations in the first place.

    • Kari says:

      Aww, that’s awesome to hear. Gracias, georgjorge. I always wonder if what I’ll post is redundant since there’s smany great (pro) articles that write about the same thing (albeit with less pictures). I don’t care much for Brazil at the moment either, just watch for the Barça players and Oscar.

  20. Davour says:

    Wow, some hand-on analysis in these times of lofty transfer speculations… (and on that topic: the formal Brazilian formation looks a lot like I would like Barca to start if they get a proper CF…).

    Thanks for this!

  21. socrates says:

    I really enjoyed reading this, Kari, thank you so much for the lesson, and the insight. Yes please for a similar Argentina debriefing. And later, if results go our way, you might have the absolutely succulent prospect of breaking down (in your inimitable interactive manner) the tactics and strategy of a Brazil/Argentina match. Holy fuck.

    Indeed, BFB has been immense of late. A gripping narrative develops here around the Suarez affair, traversing a geography of opinion that has addressed questions of psychology, morality and, ahem, cannibalism. What other football blog in the universe…? So will our club do the diabolical and sign the damaged footballing savant Luis (who now counts on Maradona and Uruguay’s exemplary and humble president José Mujica as supporters)? Will Kxevin hand in his membership card in disgust?! I feel sympathy for Suarez and his afflictions, and maybe surrounded by the nourishing Barça environment, ‘més que un club’, he could thrive and not bite opponents?

    Kari’s great post is one more stellar example of the quality of this site. Thank you all for your brilliant output, SoccerMom, Blitzen, Levon (and Ciaran gets my vote for first-time full post candidate, (next stop, RTÉ)).

    I have little to add to all the recent rambunctious debate here, but in lieu of offering a viewpoint on the scintillating Brazilian World Cup, I offer this piece by Eric Cantona about Brazil’s legendary Socrates and FC Corinthians Paulista’s employment of football culture to change the country for the better. Epic.

    • Kari says:

      I’ve repeated this probably too many times, but writing the post is only half of what makes this site so good and why I want it to keep going. The level of analysis, thought, debate that goes on below the line is fantastic, and your comment (as well as others above) illustrate this well. (Ditto for the Ciaran for Mod campaign.)

      I wouldn’t go through the trouble of printscreening and doodling on said printscreens if I didn’t know you guys would read it. Has to be good enough for you guys, you know?

      Thanks for the link to Cantona. Video’s 25 minutes but it’s Cantona so he’ll be enjoyable to watch at the very least

    • ciaran says:

      Thanks to both of you.
      I haven’t had much time to read/post this week as I’m soaking up the sights in Prague. By the way, I’d recommend it to everyone.

      Very nice post Kari. It’s funny when you watch Brazil and look at tactics because in theory they should be much better than they are with the players at their disposal. They have what most people would consider world class players in a few positions but are not a team in the classical sense. I say not in a classical sense as they do have a clearly defined goal… Give the ball to Neymar.

      I had a conversation with someone about Brazil which made me look back to the 94 and 02 teams and named the central midfielders in those teams. Gustavo and Paulinho certainly are not world class and in so many teams this is the most important area. As you say, Brazil often bypass this area completely, but let’s not forget that this is nothing new.
      In 94 the midfielders were Dunga and Mauro Silva. Not bad players certainly but not much better than the current crop even though people tend to remember them fondly.
      In 2002 it was Gilberto Silva and Kleberson. Now Gilberto wasn’t a bad player at all but at the time was still playing in Brazil and in truth was better out of possession than with it, rather like Gustavo. Kleberson, well just ask any United fan, but let’s just say Paulinho is a world beater in comparison.

      Brazil at home for me are in with a great chance even with their technical and tactical flaws.

      • Kari says:

        Oh man, I remember Kleberson. Brings back a lot of memories.

        Yeah, agree with the lack of midfield being nothing new. The 02 squad is a good point because they were also managed by Scolari and you can see they had a similar game plan, except it was pass the ball to Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, or Ronaldo (or in 1994 Romario / Bebeto). So many more options. This Brazil only has Neymar and an Oscar put on the left wing. Will that be enough? They won the Confederations Cup carrying the same problems, but it was a shorter tournament.

  22. Jnice says:

    Awesome job, Kari!

    I really like how you talked about the wing play and showed that distinction between the 6 & the 4 which I hadn’t really noticed was that defined. And good job talking about the Chilean fullbacks & that screen cap of their counter is great. Should be a great match tomorrow (hopefully).

    Also, you have a distinct way of writing that is great to read because there is a chillness & playfulness about it even while talking about things like tactics and being informative. That’s pretty difficult to do IMO. Well done :)

    • Kari says:

      Thanks a lot, buddy. Always give the sweetest feedback. :mrgreen:

      It would have been a shame to leave that stream un-screencapped so my hands were effectively tied.

      If the match tomorrow sucks I’ll be so mad, lol. I have it ready to be recorded cos I can’t watch it live. Gonna have to go ninja and wear earplugs so I don’t accidentally hear people talk about it (like the 5-1 Spain loss haha)

  23. Inamess says:

    Thanks Kari! So many interesting questions about Brazil and why they have been so uninspiring for cules to watch.

    They seem like a bizarre combination of conservatism and anarchy without a midfield, none of which Barcelona fans like too much.

    For those more in the know, I wonder if this is just the best tactics for the players Scolari has or is it a reaction against Brazilians playing beautiful football in World Cups in the past and coming up short?

    Nevertheless, it looks like a number of teams can roll to the finals and Brazil might have enough defense and athleticism to still be the odds on favorite. They are going to have a tough path though with Chile, Columbia, Germany, or France still potentially in their way to the finals.

  24. tutomate says:


    Excellent analysis Kari. But my favorite part:
    1. Pass the ball to Neymar
    2. ????
    3. Brazil score
    4. Repeat until Brazil win the game.

    I would have opted for something more meme(isn)

    1. Pass the ball to Neymar
    2. ????
    3. Profit

    I wish i had those same tactical feeds.

    If I may ask since it seems the game you analyzed for Brasil was Mexico. What were your thoughts on Hector Herrera?

    • Kari says:

      Thought in this game he blew hot and cold. Clearly has vision but was limited to a workhorse role; lost the ball quite cheaply at times and the Mexico forwards were kinda isolated for a large portion of the first half — but to be absolutely fair that wasn’t his fault, more Mexico as a team.

      Having said that he was a lot better in the 2nd, think he had a really good pot shot at goal (tho it might have been somone else) and really came at Paulinho. Also, he was very good against Croatia the other day, and if Mexico really bring it against Holland he’ll be among the standouts, methinks. Solid player.

  25. mr.undercover says:

    Hi guys I hv been alwys following this blog for a couple of years, but I prefer reading than commenting,I would like to thank all BFF for their huge effort for making the blog exciting speciallly the likes of kevin, inames,peter, tito, and specialy ciaran am huge fan of his comments and posts,thank you guys keep it up, sorry my english is not that strong

  26. mr.undercover says:

    Oh I forgot to mention our beloved kari, great tactician though, I wish u keep posting for the rest of the qualifying teams not. Only brazil.

  27. Lord Eddard Stark aka Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one says:

    Beautiful article Kari. As always your posts have the most lightest, most accessible tone while being informative.

    Man! for today how I would love for Chile to pull an upset. And even though I would want what best for our new player in Neymar, he still has lots of time for inevitable greatness. But I fear Chile will have to fight against more than not just 11 men on the field of play, but external forces as well. Think about the whats in stake here.

    Specially in light of all the scandals and the amount of money that has been spent in this edition of the WC, I am sure there will be riots if Brazil were to be eliminated so early. And no doubt, the ref will side with the hosts in more ways than one.

    Totally agree when you said you look at the Chile team and it is bonkers. There are definitely a much better ‘TEAM’ than Brazil with their stars.

    I think todays matches will be decided on who makes the errors, who stumble under the weight of pressure.

    • Lord Eddard Stark aka Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one says:

      ugh too many errors. damn phone

      • Kari says:

        I feel your pain, my phone has no autocorrect for some reason.

        Anyways, gracias Mr. Stark. That has to be among the greatest usernames I’ve seen on the internet. Tip my hat to you and your lovely compliments.

  28. Ryan says:

    Great piece, Kari! The level of detail is especially nice since the ESPN-provided camera angles and commentary don’t come close. Hopefully we get a good game and get to see some of the things you mentioned above. (and please not a 0-0 decided on penalties!)

  29. Inamess says:

    Thanks Kari! So many interesting questions about Brazil and why they have been so uninspiring for cules to watch.

    They seem like a bizarre combination of conservatism and anarchy without a midfield, none of which Barcelona fans like too much.

    For those more in the know, I wonder if this is just the best tactics for the players Scolari has or is it a reaction against Brazilians playing beautiful football in World Cups in the past and coming up short?

    Nevertheless, it looks like a number of teams can roll to the finals and Brazil might have enough defense and athleticism to still be the odds on favorite. They still might have to beat Chile, Columbia, Germany, or France still potentially in their way to the finals.

  30. ciaran says:

    The more I watch Vidal the more I wish that we sign him. The passion and power in midfield would be the perfect compliment for Iniesta and Messi.
    If Xavi leaves and Song makes his expected move then it would be perfect.

  31. Jim says:

    Wow, some opening. This could be a cracker. Hope Neymar isn’t feeling his knee. As I type 1-0.

  32. morph73 says:

    Supporting Chile tonight

  33. Jim says:

    Great first half.

  34. KEVINO17 says:

    What a cracker. Last 20 minutes will be survival of the fitest. No way Barca can release Sanchez now

  35. TITO says:

    Vidal isn’t that sort of a player, and as usual Ney is making a meal out of nothing with a spectacular jump.
    So many mistakes in both defenses that is not funny anymore. Almost all chances came either through long balls or from such mistakes.
    But overall a good game, and i feel it’s going to become more dirty in the second half.

    • Jim says:

      Yeah, I don’t like Neymar’s diving but Chile are also out to get him since he got treatment on his knee and Vidal’s tackle was a yellow every day of the week.

      • TITO says:

        Yes, he got pushed and kicked a little bit, but there was nowhere near a dangerous tackle on him in the first half. At least that’s what i saw.
        They are just trying to make a pressure on Webb.
        And bthw, it’s same to me which team goes through :)

  36. barca96 says:

    Neymar has been the MoM so far by a large distance. Did you guys see the pace of Neymar??!! How often did we see him run like that in a Barca shirt? It’s just so rare that our players get so much space to run into. Imagine a trio of;
    Neymar -Ronaldo-Bale.

    They will slaughter any team on a counter.

    But Neymar really needs to learn how to control his emotions. He still loves to retaliate after what he think him getting fouled.

    And at the end he kicked the ball away after the whistle has been blown and probably said something to Scolari. Scolari looked dumbfounded when the camera was on him 😆

  37. Peter says:

    If I could I would train a camera on Sanchez, so that when he pulls up his shorts and tucks them in I can watch.

  38. Jim says:

    Ouch! Webb will never get out alive once the fans see that replay!

  39. ciaran says:

    Chile look tired and the match looks to be going to extra time. At the moment there’s only one winner.

  40. Jim says:

    I think the only person not enjoying this might be Ter Stegen…

  41. ciaran says:

    And now for penalties. Heartbreaking for someone…

  42. Jim says:

    Neymar’s hobbling with cramp. Would you let him take one?
    Chance for Bravo to improve his audition for us.

    Not sure the English pundits should be pontificating on how to take them either…..

  43. Messiah10 says:

    Gutted Alexis missed his penalty.

  44. Messiah10 says:

    I havent seen so many poor penalty kicks in a long time. Why would u hit it straight down the middle? Unless you Pirlo and chip it you have to big a chance to catch the keepers legs. Both keepers have done extremely well. I like Bravo

  45. 86ed says:

    Chileans don’t do penalties, do they? In the last Copa America they missed 4 of them vs Paraguay.

  46. Jim says:

    Great game, though. Hope the rest are as open.

  47. Peter says:

    Absolutely marvelous game. It seemed to me Chile channelled a combination of Pep’s pressing and Klopp’s gegenpressing. I would have to look long and hard to find a game paced so fast and so furious. In the end though, someone must bow out, but Chile went out fighting, fighting till the end.

    Chile must be proud of its Selección.

  48. Inamess says:

    Chile played great!

  49. BA says:

    this World Cup just gets better and better. best one in my lifetime, surely.

    Chile go out with their heads held high, though there’s a big part of me that is glad Brazil is still in it simply for the sake of the Brazilian fans. but all respect for a Chile side who’ve been brilliant in the tournament, and the Man of the Match had to be Alexis Sanchez (even if he did miss his penalty). he was absolutely everywhere today, dragging Chile forward. the idea that we’d even consider selling him, especially to garner resources for Luis Suarez after their respective World Cups, is *insane*. not just on a footballing level but on a personal/ethical level, surely the club wouldn’t make that mistake.

  50. Inamess1 says:

    Great effort by Chile! Kari comments were particularly apt. I wonder why you saw so little of Marcelo and Alves. Were they playing more defensively.

    BTW, Anyone else having trouble posting comments? Had to use a new user name.

    • stefan2k says:

      In the first half there was a lot of Alves… then Lexus switched sides and Alves couldn’t go anywhere. Although he kept him back he couldn’t exactly get past him which just shows the skills of our hopefully not-off-to-PSG rightback.

      I also wonder how Tata came to the conclusion to bench Lexus in favour of Fabregas most of the season. Such an amazing dynamic worker with an increasing hunger for goals.

  51. ciaran says:

    Uruguay are a very poor team without Suarez. Colombia look great and both James and Cuadrado are incredibly talented players.

    • stefan2k says:

      Toothless *cough*

    • ciaran says:

      Cavani never stops running. I’ve been watching him closely and he is never static, either in possession or out of it. Pity PSG spent €64m on him already.

    • BA says:

      it’s been a long time since i’ve seen a player as equally eager and capable of taking on the player(s) in front of him as Cuadrado. you may just be right that he’d look a brilliant like-for-like replacement for Dani Alves (circa 2009) should the latter leave this summer. what a brilliant player; top assist provider in the tournament so far as well.

  52. 86ed says:

    I don’t think I’ve seen anyone play like Cuadrado at this World Cup. Right back, left back, winger, forward, non-stop box-to-box midfielder… Where he finds the energy in e Brazilian heat, I’ll never know.

    • Peter says:

      The power of Salsa compels you!
      The power of Salsa compels you!!
      The power of Salsa compels you!!!

    • KEVINO17 says:

      And the header for the goal – absolutely sublime. Most players would have tried to beat the keeper, but he knew the angle was bad and teed up Rodriguez. It’s also noticeable how much better his crossing is than Dani. When he hits the ball, it really hums into the penalty box. Imagine him and Alexis tearing up one flank.

  53. Valdemar II says:

    Was hoping for a Chile win towards the end there, started neutral but they won me over. Great game, the first 20 minutes were the best, lot of action around midfield as neither team would accept a passive role, sort of how I imagine Barca vs Barca would look (albeit at a higher level). How about that Sanchez? We should be getting money + Suarez.

    • KEVINO17 says:

      Absolutely fantastic game. Brazil seemed to have the edge in pace and talent all over the park (except for Alexis), but Chile fought them to a standstill away from home. What a tight unit. Fantastic effort. Don’t see how Brazil can lift themselves again against Columbia. Surely their legs will go in the second half. Scolari might have to make a lot of changes.

  54. Gary says:

    dunno, if this has been posted before, but enjoyed it, so am sharing it :

  55. ciaran says:

    Spanish press today suggesting that we may not sign a midfielder even if Xavi leaves due to Koke signing a new contract. More responsibility may go to Sergi Roberto.
    I never thought that we would sign Koke as he is a life long Atletico fan and has never given any indication that he wants to play anywhere but there. Still, with Rakitic replacing Cesc and Masch possibly replacing Song I still see the need to replace Xavi if he leaves and I’m not convinced that Sergi Roberto is that replacement.
    I suppose Rafinha is there too to pick up his minutes. I still think it best for everyone if Sergi gets a loan for the season to improve.

    I sure would like if we signed a top quality defender because this summer is beginning to smell like the last two summers of failed chases of Thiago Silva with our pursuit of Marquinhos. He doesn’t look like PSG want to let him go so we should move on to different targets assuming that there are others.
    It looks like desperation to me. Benatia is a beast, Hummels is very classy and both are better and easier targets than Marquinhos.
    Mathieu is a decent player but shouldn’t be our top target.

    • Levon says:

      Play Messi as a 10. Move Masch up a line. I’m not even sure where Rakitic would get his minutes, let alone Sergi Roberto.

    • Jim says:

      I wouldn’t agree both are necessarily better targets but both might be easier, Ciaran, if PSG see him as their future and I’m with you in starting to feel just a tad uneasy about the energy going out of our summer transfer window. The longer it goes the more desperate other clubs will know we are to sign a defender. I know there is a long way to go but we’ve been working on some of these for a while. I like our GK options but tbh that was probably always the easier part. A quick meeting with Xavi is required imo if it hasn’t already happened and if he isn’t committed elsewhere. No way is Roberto ready for a leading role over a season and although more experienced Rafinha will, at best, take time to settle.

      • Messiah10 says:

        Marquinho has to want to leave?! Surely. I mean he only got games when Silva was injured and now they pick up Luiz for $80 million? When’s he going to play. He’s good enough to start and play the majority of games for us. I am a huge fan and hope he forces a move to get more playing time. If not then we need to look to Brazil for some talent. I can’t see Hummels going anywhere, even though he’s been mentioned a lot this summer. I pray we don’t let Alexis leave. That would be idiotic and probably the worst piece of business besides Ibra/Eto’o deal. We’ve been strongly linked w/Suarez and I get it. I’d love to have him, even w/his baggage. He cares so much for the cause. He’s a winner. He needs serious psychiatric work though. A front three of Neymar, Messi, Suarez would be crazy. However, if we don’t get Suarez, which is likely, Alexis is the next best option. His confidence is sky high. He’s going to get up in the 20 goal range, which is plenty. He provides so much tenacity on defense and pressing to win the ball back. I don’t get why we would even consider letting him go. Pedro, Tello, & Deufelo would be on my list before Alexis. Even if we pick up Suarez there will be plenty of games for either one.

  56. barca96 says:

    God. That was a clear penalty!! 2 contacts!! From Marquez and Moreno.

  57. barca96 says:

    Holland has been slow starters in the tournament so far so I expect them to pick it up in the 2nd half.

  58. barca96 says:


    But I love to see Mexico’s coach’s celebration.

  59. Inamess1 says:

    Jonathan Dos Santos’ transfer price has just doubled. Not only does he have Barca DNA, but also Dos Santos DNA.

  60. barca96 says:

    My English commentator keeps on pronouncing Sneijder German style Schneider.

  61. ochoa/mexico have been great to watch!

  62. That Robben guy really knows how to act. He’s such an incredible player, but seems like a real ass.

    • barca96 says:

      I assume you mean the penalty incident. It was a clumsy unnecessary challenge by Marquez and it was a clear penalty. Robben milked it yes and went down just like how our Alexis does it. Same style.

      • Ryan says:

        Not to mention there were 2 other challenges on Robben that could’ve been called earlier. You can’t expect the ref to not award a penalty for one of those.

      • I know it was a penalty, I just don’t like acting (Alexis or Robben). But there is something about Robben that just annoys the hell out of me. The replay of his face was priceless. But, I mean, if I were Dutch, I’d be psyched!

        • Levon says:

          To be fair he jumped over a tackle in the box 15 minutes earlier when my whole bar (mostly neutrals) were chiding him for not taking the foul. He’s definitely not as bad as he was when still at Chelsea. Truly insufferable.

        • Messiah10 says:

          Completely agree w/deerwithwings. Robben was looking for contact. Can’t fault him, b/c Marquez was stupid enough to give it to him. Robben throwing his hands in the air and doing a belly flop is what gives it away. He VERY easily could’ve ridden that tackle off and stayed on his feet, but why would I expect anything else from him. He’s a pure diver at heart.

          • Levon says:

            Why on EARTH would he have ridden that tackle off? Nor should he have. Marquez shouldn’t have made that boneheaded challenge when his mark was surrounded by green shirts. Robben made the right play.

          • Jim says:

            Nope. If he could have stayed on his feet instead of the swallow dive he should have. If you go down every time there’s contact when you don’t have to we end up with a non contact sport. That’s not to say Rafa’s tackle didn’t merit the award.

            However, we’re back in the same territory we were with Neymar against Celtic. Diving / embellishing, it’s all cheating to me, I’m afraid. No time for any of them – including the Barca players who do it.

          • Kxevin says:

            That Robben play was ugly. There was contact made, and Robben embellished the hell out of it.

            A Twitter debate was parsing the difference between contact, and impeding an attacker. There was nuance there. The case for a non-call could have been made just as easily as the case for a penalty.

            Marquez made the error in giving the attacker a chance to do it. Rare is the attacker in world football, including in our locker room, who wouldn’t have felt that contact and gone down. Perhaps not as spectacularly as Robben, but they would have.

            But Mexico screwed their own pooch by closing up shop, and the Dos Santos sub was mystifying.

        • Let’s just say that I’m doing a contextual rather than formal critique.

  63. barca96 says:

    Of course I’m happy that Holland went through but it’s sad seeing underdogs and hardworking sides such as Chile and Mexico to go out. And I will really miss their managers. Lively characters on the touch line that shows a lot of passion and energy from the sidelines and it transmits to their players. Sad to only see them again in 4 years time.

    • barca96 says:

      I wish they played teams such as Costa Rica and Greece instead of the heavyweights.

    • Levon says:

      He’s certainly better at cheering when his team scores than coaching them. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a tactical screw up as when Mexico stopped attacking the moment they scored. I just knew Holland would win the game after that. And to think he took off Gio, too. They were lord and master the first 50 minutes of the game. My God what an inept soul…

    • Mexico dug their own hole when they took off Gio. You cannot defend a 1-0 lead at the World Cup. This has been proven every time. Without Gio they simply fizzled out in attack and that allowed relentless raids after raid. One of them had to go in. Had Gio been in the field, they could have easily exploited Dutch nervousness in the 80s and hit them on the counter.

  64. Kxevin says:

    This World Cup, y’all. Man!

    — Check out this video of Sergi Samper from this season past. I like, I like!

  65. Peter says:

    Fabulous Keylor Navas. Marvellous Costa Rica. They played for one hour with one man less, and still had the spirit and bravery to take their penalties like that!

  66. from ESPN:

    “The one at the end was a penalty, I was fouled,” he [Robben] told Dutch television channel NOS.

    “At the same time I have to apologise in the first half I took a dive and I really shouldn’t do that.

    “That was a stupid, stupid thing to do but sometimes you’re expecting to be struck and then they pull their leg away at the last minute.”

    See, part of me applauds Robben for being so honest about his ‘technique,’ but man, “…sometimes you’re expecting to be stuck….” On the other side, Herrera’s out blaming the referee for their loss. That’s even worse, especially considering his decisions had a lot to do with that collapse at the end.

    • Inamess1 says:

      No one likes to see players who dive as much as Robben, but I think his words honestly address what we all know by now: diving is one of an attacking players greatest weapons:

      1) Diving pays off because the only penalty is a rare yellow card. The only reward is victory and immortality, particularly in a World Cup.

      2) Diving is a performance art. You either put on a good show or you don’t get one. Any player that does not do down immediately and convincingly on contact does not get a penalty. Robben is saying what we all know. He was looking for the contact and was preparing to dive but failed to make the desired contact with the defender’s leg.

      3) The fact that defenders know that Robben dives makes it harder to play him. He is good at making a meal out of any contact, so he is also more likely to get space in the box to score. This coupled with the fact that except for Messi and Ronaldo, he is that last player in the world you want to give space to makes playing him a nightmare.

      4) Diving also invites future penalties. If a player goes down 4 times, the player is more likely to get at least 1 penalty. Two of those might have been dives and two borderline penalties, but I would think that without the two dives, the ref might not have called one of the borderline cases.

      • Levon says:

        Very good points. I also think that in this particular case, if you step on someone’s toes, it is disingenuous to claim afterwards that the attacker dived.

        To those who thinks dives can be rooted out of the game by yellow cards (or worse, suspensions), I think it is extremely hard to determine when a player dives, embellishes or simply loses balance. Again video technology is the only solution. Why dive if you know the ref will use video to not give you the call?

    • KEVINO17 says:

      But you notice that even his “admission” is very calculating: I went down when I didn’t get the penalty, but I didn’t when I did. If Refs called every foul in the box, particularly on set-pieces, there would be 20 penalties a game.
      Maybe refs should have a rule that if, when a player goes to ground, his hands rise above his head, it’s a drive.

  67. hansh says:

    Grande Costa Rica! Vamos los ticos! I am so excited for my overachieving CONCACAF brothers-in-arms. They play the offside trap so well.

    Does anyone know why the Greek manager was sent off before the penalties began?


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