By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Yesterday, Tuesday, June 13th, FIFA’s current number one ranked team in the world looked every bit worthy of that lofty title as Brazil’s national football (soccer) team easily dispatched Australia 4-0 in an international friendly at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Melbourne, Australia.
For Brazil, yesterday’s game was the second of a pair of friendly matches played in Melbourne. In the first match, on June 9th, the Seleção were beaten 1-0 by a Lionel Messi-led Argentina squad.
Before making the trip down-under, Brazil head coach Tite decided to leave several prominent players, such as Neymar, Marquinhos and Daniel Alves, off the squad so they could, according to the coach, rest and prepare for next year’s World Cup in Russia.
The Seleção was the first team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after defeating Paraguay on March 28th. Since Tite took over in September, Brazil has won eight straight matches in South American qualifying and earned 24 of its 33 points.
As the crowd was still settling into their seats at the MCG on Tuesday, a stunned silence immediately fell over the 50,000 hometown fans as Brazil got on the scoreboard seconds into the game.
Guilliano easily intercepted a lackadaisical pass from Aussie defender Bailey Wright and promptly fed a streaking Diego Souza. Souza launched a shot past keeper Langerak for the game’s first goal at the twelve-second mark.
To their credit, Australia steadied the ship after the shocking start, holding its line well and pressing high up on Brazil. The tactic worked well as the defensive pressure prevented the Seleção from establishing any offensive rhythm as the first half played out.
With the half coming to an end, Brazil finally started to find its flow. At the 35-minute mark, the club squandered a great opportunity to double its lead. Crisp passing found Paulinho with the ball at point blank range, but somehow the midfielder’s scoop shot from close range sailed just over the crossbar.
Brazil carried the 1-0 lead into halftime and well into the second period. Then, at the 62nd minute, off a corner kick, the ball floated into the near post with Luiz meeting it with a header that ricocheted off the crossbar. But the Australian defense failed to clear the ball and an alert Thiago Silva followed with a scoring header of his own to double their lead.
More precision passing led to Brazil’s third goal at the 74th-minute as a beautiful back heel pass from Paulinho set up Taison’s first international goal as the midfielder launched a rocket past a helpless Langerak for the 3-0 lead.
With the game all but over, the Seleção would still have one more goal left in them. On the final play of the game, a corner kick found the forehead of Souza, who pounded home a header as the final whistle sounded.
With the victory, Brazil now heads back to World Cup qualifiers to face Ecuador in Porto Alegre on August 31st. Meanwhile, Australia now heads to Russia to play Germany in the opening match of the Confederations Cup.