By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Selecão’s (Brazilian national team) 2014 World Cup playing preparations were dealt a severe blow on Sunday afternoon as they were defeated 2-0 by Mexico in Dallas, United States. English based players Giovani dos Santos and Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez did the damage for Mexico ending a nice run by the Brazilian side.
Dos Santos was on fire for the North Americans, first opening the scoring in the 21st minute before winning the penalty that Hernandez converted on the half-hour mark. The Tottenham midfielder picked up the ball from Pablo Barrera before cutting past Danilo and deftly chipping the ball over Santos goalkeeper Rafael.
He then turned veteran defender Juan in-side-out in the box, who clumsily pulled him down before the referee swiftly pointed to the spot. Hernandez confidently tucked away the resulting penalty to give the Mexicans what turned out to be an unassailable lead.
Brazilian coach Mano Menezes‘s men had come into the match in good form, having already beaten Denmark 3-1 and the U.S. 4-1 as the former Corinthians man seeks to streamline his selection prior to the Olympics later this summer, before the Confederations Cup the following year.
Despite the negative result, the side has a good opportunity to bounce back this weekend in New Jersey (U.S.). Brazil will take on their oldest rivals, Argentina, and despite the fixture only being a friendly match, any meeting between the countries is bound to provoke strong emotions from their fans.
There was worryingly little creativity from Brazil’s front three in response to their opponents’ two goal cushion. Neymar was man-marked out of the game and certainly needs bulking up above his slight 60kg frame if he is to cause defenders headaches on the world stage.
Meanwhile, Porto striker Hulk, who is a target for some of Europe’s biggest clubs, and Internacional’s Leandro Damiao, found little space in which to work as chances were limited to the five-time world champions. The positive coming out of the match for the South Americans was the performance of Damiao’s Inter team-mate Oscar.
The youngster put Mexico goalkeeper Jesus Corona to the test with a ferocious long-range effort which the keeper was equal to. Menezes responded at the interval by sending on further attacking options in the shape of Milan’s Alexandre Pato and São Paulo’s promising midfielder Lucas Moura.
But they too found it hard going against a well drilled and disciplined Mexico side who kept Brazil at bay for the duration. Superstar Neymar only got one real glimpse of goal and even then it came from range, with keeper Corona managing to keep the effort out.
As Brazil pushed to get back into the game, the Mexicans had a chance to hit on the counter and Hernandez should have scored fifteen minutes from time, only to be denied by Rafael. It was the final chance of a disappointing game.
Whilst one friendly defeat is not disastrous, Menezes and his squad must learn from their mistakes fast. With the London Olympics just around the corner and the nation already obsessed with the World Cup, any failure this summer could cost the coach his tenure.