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Oscar and Brazil entertain in scoreless draw with Mexico

Buda Mendes

There are scoreless draws and then there are scoreless draws.  Nigeria and Iran gave us one yesterday, and we were bored to tears.  Now Brazil and Mexico gave us one as well, and we were on the edge of our seats for 90 minutes.  Oh, football, you so crazy!

Luiz Felipe Scolari made one change to the team that won 3-1 against Croatia: Hulk was dropped in favor of Ramires who slotted in on the right wing of Brazil's 4-2-3-1-ish formation.  Oscar, in response, moved to the left wing -- though the two Chelsea men switched multiple times -- while Neymar stayed central.  For the first 45 minutes, this provided for some rather stellar entertainment.

While the second half was similarly open and similarly played at about a million miles per hour, it went on without Ramires who was withdrawn in favor of Bernard.  Unfortunately for the man who just had possibly his worst season for Chelsea yet, his display was of the sort that we most dread around these parts: entirely ineffective and anonymous, save for a couple fouls and a yellow card.  We try not to put too much stock into Opta stats, but here's Ramires's dashboard, which just about tells the whole story.  The full count for 45 minutes:  14 touches, 2 fouls, 1 yellow card.  In a game that featured very little actual defending, that's rather subpar.

Meanwhile, Oscar picked up where he left off against Croatia, and despite switching wings to start, he was once against at the heart of everything good for Brazil.  Unfortunately, there was to be no reward this time, mostly thanks to some very ineffective, dare I say Chelsea-like play from the center forwards.  Just like home, eh, Oscar?  Oh, and a special shout-out to his eight (8!) successful tackles.

Willian got to make his World Cup debut late on, coming on for Oscar in the 84th minute.  Six minutes plus a few extra aren't really ever enough to expect a massive contribution, though he did manage to win a free kick, lead a couple attacks, and even take a shot.  Scolari really could do worse than play Willian a bit more, especially with the useless displays from the likes of Fred, Jo, Paulinho, and Ramires, just to name a few.

With the draw, both teams sit on four points but are hardly assured of qualifying for the knockout round.  Croatia plays Cameroon tomorrow, the winner of which will still have every chance of progressing from this group.

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