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With two breath-taking clashes to look forward to in the semi-finals of the World Cup, we at Outside of the Boot take a look at how the sides have set-up tactically so far.
Prior to the start of this tournament, followers of the Selecao were well aware of the tactics Luiz Felipe Scolari will employ for the side. Though the squad seemed weak, it didn’t surprise many that impressive performances from some Brazilians didn’t earn them a spot in the squad as pragmatic Scolari stuck to his tried & tested team. This piece on Brazil’s tactical set-up prior to the start of the tournament was spot on. This was the case for any Brazilian supporter, as the formation & system was well known before the first ball was kicked, and there has been little change.
Starting line-up: Cesar; Dani Alves; Thiago Silva; David Luiz; Marcelo; L. Gustavo; Paulinho (Hernanes, 63); Hulk (Bernard, 68); Neymar (Ramires, 88); Oscar; Fred.
Detailed Tactical Analysis: Brazil 3-1 Croatia
It was the expected formation against the Croats with the pre-tournament line-up mirroring the one used on the opening day. The only surprise here though was the positioning of the three attacking players behind Fred. It was expected that Oscar would take up a proper #10 role behind the lone man, but instead he was deployed in a wider capacity, Hulk starting on the opposite side and Neymar in a central position. Scolari was probably testing the Barcelona man and his ability from this area of the pitch. And despite Neymar’s match winning performance, it was Oscar who was the real star of the game.
Starting Line-Up: Cesar, Alves, Silva, Luiz, Marcelo, Gustavo, Paolinho, Ramires (Bernard, 45’), Oscar (Willian, 83’), Neymar, Fred
Detailed Tactical Analysis: Brazil 0-0 Mexico
The next game saw Scolari shift to his pre-tournament expected system with Oscar now occupying that central role with Neymar cutting in from the wide left position, this may have been a direct ploy on Mexico’s advancing full-backs. The defence remained the same as well, the only change saw Ramires brought into the side for the more attacking Hulk, with the Zenit star lacking fitness. So there were no tactical changes, just ones forced upon the Brazilian side. No attacking flair & fluidity helped Brazil as the Mexicans held out for a memorable point, with the man furthermost to the right in the image above being the most impressive player on the day, and it wasn’t the only time.
Starting Line-Up: Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo, Paulinho (Fernandinho 46’), Luiz Gustavo, Hulk (Ramires 63’), Oscar, Neymar (Wllian 71’), Fred.
Detailed Tactical Analysis: Cameroon 1-4 Brazil
The Cameroon game unraveled as a bit of a scare for the Brazilians as the Africans were widely expected to be beaten comprehensively. They were, eventually, but not before playing some good football and threatening the Brazilian defence, even getting a goal of their own. Scolari had once again played the system he intended to employ prior to the start of the tournament, though again stopped short of playing Neymar in a wide role, realising the threat he offers through the centre. This did mean that Oscar again would be shifted wide, and it isn’t quite the role the Chelsea star looks to play.
Starting Line-Up: Cesar, Marcelo, Luiz, Silva, Alves, Fernandinho, Gustavo, Hulk, Neymar, Oscar, Fred
Detailed Tactical Analysis: Brazil 1-1 Chile (4-3) pens
Another game, a crucial one, but nearly a shocking day for Brazilian football. Scolari again stuck to his system and his tried & tested line-up. The personnel in defence & attack remained the same with only Oscar & Hulk swapping sides. The big news though was in midfield as Paulinho was dropped in favour of Fernandinho. The Manchester City midfielder had impressed after coming on against Cameroon in the previous game and convinced Scolari to finally change his midfield for the first time. Chile were certainly better for large parts with Brazil on the backfoot, though Julio Cesar proved to be the match-winner in the shootout. The match also saw Brazil’s problems upfront surface as Fred failed to impress, neither did his replacement, Jo.
Starting Line-Up: Cesar; Maicon; Thiago Silva (capt); David Luiz; Marcelo; Fernandinho; Paulinho (Hernanes, 86); Oscar; Neymar (Henrique, 88); Hulk (Ramires, 83); Fred.
Tactical Analysis: Brazil 2-1 Colombia
Although Brazil had the support of the home fans, the rest of the World were backing Colombia led by James Rodriguez as the fellow South Americans had been the most consistent and impressive team of the tournament thus far. Luiz Gustavo was suspended for the clash so Paulinho got his place back in the side, and for the first time we saw a hint of tactical changes from Scolari as Alves was dropped & replaced by Maicon, probably with the intention of utilising his superior defensive ability. It was also the game that Brazil received wide-spread criticism for as they gave away a tournament record 51 fouls in their bid to keep James Rodriguez in check. The ref failed to keep a hold of the game and there should have been a couple of cards for the Brazilians. The victory was marred by Neymar’s late injury that has ruled him out of the rest of the World Cup.