Brazil v Peru report
The dismantlement of Haiti on match day 2 proved to be more of a mirage than a building block. Dunga was forced into one line-up change with Casemiro suspended. He opted to go ‘hands free’ at the base of his midfield, with Renato Augusto dropping into a less familiar deep midfield role and Lucas Lima moving into the midfield 3 to provide the technical security Casemiro gives them, albeit from higher up the pitch.
The manager also selected Gabigol in place of Jonas upfront. The Santos youngster showed good movement in the role, his running allowed the likes of Elias to move forward into space. However, there is still the impression that Gabriel is a little lightweight to lead the line and he was consigned to the periphery of the game for long periods. In the opening 30 minutes, he was constantly brushed off the ball by more muscular Peru defenders.
Initially, there was some faint promise of a supply line from Philippe Coutinho. In the first half, the Liverpool man produced a balletic spin outside the area, followed by a cute reverse pass which was just too strong for Gabigol. Coutinho managed to forge space for himself in this manner several times during the match, but every time thereafter, he opted for speculative long shots, ignoring the runs of Gabriel.
Peru are a counter attacking side at the best of times, so the decision to play without a recognised defensive midfielder was a brave one from Dunga. In retrospect, it backfired because they lost the game. But in truth, Brazil were sucker punched. Peru carried little threat for the majority of the match and the decisive goal did come somewhat out of the blue. Brazil have every right to feel aggrieved about the decision to award it.
Brazil controlled the first half, as expected, with Peru forming two banks of four in front of their 18 yard line. Filipe Luis’s range finder after an interception high up the pitch forced Peru keeper Pedro Gallese into a full stretch save. Gabigol eked out a shot on the turn from Elias’ pass, which Gallese was equal to again. Willian enjoyed the best opportunity of the half when he attacked Filipe Luis’ low cross with gusto, but fired the ball narrowly over the crossbar from around 12 yards.
Both sides had convincing penalty shouts waved away by the Uruguayan official during the first half. Lucas Lima was clearly clipped inside the penalty area by Christian Ramos after 24 minutes. While Renato Augusto also appeared to take the legs of Guerrero in the box on the stroke of half time. The referee denied both appeals. Brazil were dominating possession, but finding it difficult to bend Peru’s defence to their will. Elias and Lucas Lima endured difficult evenings with some sloppy passing.
Willian looked like a man that has just finished a gruelling Premier League season, whilst Gabigol struggled for quality service. Coutinho did not play as collectively as he ought to have done. He failed to build on that beautiful piece of play in the first half, where he was inches away from prizing the Peru defence open for Gabriel. He fell into a pattern of cutting in and taking pot shots from range, none of which threatened the goal.
Dunga threw Hulk on ahead of Gabigol to stiffen his front line with greater physical presence, but Brazil did not look in serious danger of concession. Peru planned to hold Brazil at bay and take their opportunity when it presented itself and they did just that on 75 minutes. Andy Polo burst past the otherwise impressive Filipe Luis and cut the ball back from the by-line, picking out substitute Raul Ruidiaz, who bundled home from close range.
The goal was greeted by a slew of angry protests from Alisson in the Brazil goal and captain João Miranda. Farcical scenes ensued as the referee stopped and deliberated with his assistants, his hand pressed keenly to his earpiece, for over 3 minutes as they mulled over whether to award the goal. Confusion reigned for an eternity before the referee awarded the goal. Replays showed that Ruidiaz had used his right wrist to hook the ball into the unguarded net.
Brazil searched in vain for an equaliser, with Elias somehow placing a close range header straight at Gallese. Peru held out and Brazil are left with further soul searching following another humiliation at an international tournament. Dunga came into the tournament under significant pressure and this latest setback will likely cost him his job. The only question is whether the CBF pull the trigger now or wait until after the upcoming Olympic games in Rio.
The injustice of Peru’s winning goal gives Dunga and the CBF a maypole to clutch, but they must not be tempted to use it as an excuse for this latest aberration. The CBF failed to act appropriately in the wake of the 7-1 defeat to Germany at the last World Cup and in doing so, earned the opprobrium of the Brazilian people, who are increasingly turning on their own national side. I cannot pretend that the 5-600 Brazilians I follow on Twitter to be representative of a country of 200million, but reaction to the final whistle ranged from indifference to outright celebration.
Systematic change is required and the reappointment of Dunga in the wake of Brazil’s darkest hour for 64 years killed off the final vestige of a nation’s optimism. Many openly hope for further catastrophe for the Seleção in order to inspire the change that is required, whilst many more have entirely given up hope of any such revolution and their interest in the Brazil side is totally vanquished. Whilst Dunga was an ill-advised appointment, few labour under the illusion that sacking him will cure Brazil’s woes.
Brazil have the right to feel aggrieved about the decision to award Peru’s goal, but they benefitted from an equally controversial call to disallow an Ecuador goal on match day one. The emphasis was on Brazil to take the game to all three of their group opponents and they failed to create enough opportunities against Ecuador and Peru. They were only able to score against lowly Haiti. The CBF and Dunga must resist the urge to lay the blame squarely at the feet of a Uruguayan official and address the rot that has poisoned the supply line of Brazilian talent before it becomes terminal.
BRAZIL: 1.ALISSON, 2.DANI ALVES, 3.MIRANDA(c), 4.GIL, 6.FILIPE LUIS, 18.RENATO AUGUSTO, 8.ELIAS, 10.LUCAS LIMA, 19.WILLIAN, 22.PHILIPPE COUTINHO, 11.GABRIEL B. (21.Hulk ’72)