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Thiago Silva captains Brazil’s dismantling of Chile; Christian Pulisic’s USMNT held to goalless draw versus Mexico

Goals galore on one side, no goals on the other

Brazil v Chile - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifier Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Life in Brazil is full of ups and downs, and there is no better way to showcase that to the rest of the world than its national team. The four-year cycle of getting hopes crushed in a World Cup, deciding to veer away from every glimmer of optimism with regards to the Seleção, and then building up insurmountable amounts of expectation to any other human being in the planet in the lead-up to the competition has only been broken five times in history.

And this national team rendition is getting us to new levels of “hopium”. While there are areas in which the team might falter, such as right-back where the two options are Daniel and Daniel Alves, the team is on a recent-time high in terms of performances (one cannot seriously say “all-time high” if they are aware of Brazil’s 1970 squad).

Chile has long lost the shine of years past, when they won two consecutive Copa América titles to stun everyone but those who had been paying close attention to Jorge Sampaoli’s work as a disciple of Marcelo Bielsa. It has been quite hard finding new talents to replace the likes of Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sánchez, in a predicament quite similar to Uruguay’s with Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani.

Most Brazilians pay no mind to their struggles. All they want is to see Brazil winning, and they handily did so last night with a 4-0 scoreline thanks to goals from Neymar, Vinícius Júnior, Philippe Coutinho and Richarlison. The second goal by Vini was special, as it was his first with the national team while playing in front of plenty of Flamengo supporters at the Maracanã who learned to love the guy only a few months before his departure to Real Madrid.

Chelsea centre-back Thiago Silva captained Brazil’s efforts against Chile. Thankfully he did not need to work much, playing at his usually sky-high level to stop the visitors from doing any harm to Alisson’s goal.

In CONMEBOL qualifiers for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, Brazil remain atop with an incredible record of 13 wins and three draws in 16 matches. There are only two matches left to play, against Bolivia away on the 29th and Argentina god knows when and where following the farce that had the latter match cancelled back in September last year.

Up north in the Americas, Mexico hosted the United States in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers. Estádio Azteca was much less crowded than usual due to several factors, from the horrific incidents that took place in Querétaro that led to Mexico’s FA implementing facial recognition to match attendants, to common day problems such as traffic around the stadium.

Atmosphere was still booming. Yet Mexico took little advantage of the diminished home crowd, winning in ball retention but losing out on attacking opportunities against an USMNT who put captain Guillermo Ochoa to task with his goalkeeping.

Chelsea attacker Christian Pulisic was not in scintillating form. But he is still a menace, even when on an “off-day”. He nearly brought home the three points, with Ochoa defending what was the best goalscoring chance in the entire match.

The goalless draw keeping Mexico and USA tied in points in the World Cup qualifiers, with the US ahead thanks to a better goal difference (+9 vs. +6). The Mexicans will face Honduras next, while the USMNT have Panama as their next opponents at home.

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