England vs brazil

International Friendly: England 0-0 Brazil: 5 talking points.

In the second of their two blockbuster international friendlies, England welcomed the 2014 WC hosts to a packed Wembley Stadium. A Brazil team featuring the likes of Neymar, Gabriel Jesus, Philippe Coutinho & Paulinho proved to be tricky opposition for Gareth Southgate’s men.

In the end, England held Brazil to a 0-0 draw, just as they did with Germany. Chances in the game were few and far between, with only Neymar providing any kind of excitement for the 84,000 strong Wembley crowd.

Here are 5 main talking points from England’s 0-0 draw with Brazil.

#5 Ruben Loftus-Cheek injured

Loftis-check

After his man of the match performance against Germany, the whole footballing world was looking forward to seeing the Ruben Loftus-Cheek in an England shirt again. On Friday, he dominated a makeshift midfield of Mesut Özil and İlkay Gündoğan. The World Cup Champions couldn’t live with his raw power, pace, strength and exceptional ball-carrying skills. A midfield three of Paulinho, Casemrio and Renato Augusto was always going to be a more difficult challenge. However, the 21-year-old didn’t even have the chance to prove his worth. The Chelsea loanee limped off injured in the 34th minute.

In his short spell on the pitch, Loftus-Cheek only completed 9 passes, 1 take-on and won 1 aerial. Football really is a cruel game, isn’t it?

#4 England’s defensive solidity

Jesus vs Dier

England only conceded 3 goals during the qualification

In the space of two games, England have kept a clean sheet against Neymar, Gabriel Jesus, Timo Werner, Mesut Özil, Roberto Firmino & Philippe Coutinho. In both games, England’s 3-5-2 reverted to a 5-3-2 in defence, meaning all three of Brazil’s front three were man marked. This is why Neymar had to keep drifting inwards as he was deprived of space on the wing.

Gareth Southgate organised his team into a resolute medium-block that Brazil struggled to break down. Throughout the game, Southgate’s men won 19 aerials, made 21 clearances, made 22 tackles and intercepted 15 passes. If England take such organisation to the World Cup, they’re guaranteed to advance to the quarterfinals at least.

#3 Neymar sizzles

brazil Neymar

Neymar has directly contributed to 18 goals in 12 games this season

The 3rd best player in the world was determined to put on a show in front a Wembley crowd that adored his every touch. His intricate play with Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho was jaw-dropping at times. But what was more entertaining were his sudden bursts of pace that continually left English players in his wake. At times it was almost as if he was toying with Southgate’s men, nutmegging them and skipping past them.

The 25-year-old was at the heart of everything good creatively for Brazil, as he often decided to drift centrally from the wing. This movement meant he could pick up the ball in between the lines, allowing him to turn instantly and run at England’s back three. The Brazilian successfully completed 6 take-ons, created 4 chances and attempted 3 shots on goal.

 #2 Jake Livermore maintains consistency

Livermore

Jake Livermore has made 154 PL appearances in his career

At first, I didn’t understand what Gareth Southgate saw in Jake Livermore, but after his two performances against Germany and Brazil, I may be seeing what the 47-year-old is seeing. In England’s 3-5-2, Jake Livermore plays as CM, but with a more defensive and reserved mindset. His role was to quietly recycle possession, win tackles and cut off passing lanes to Phillippe Coutinho. He did that and his combative style of play served England well throughout the match.

In his 89 minutes on the pitch, Jake Livermore produced a stunning 87% passing accuracy, won 1 tackle, intercepted 1 pass completed and completed 26 passes. It wasn’t an awe-inspiring performance but it’s a cameo that gives the Three Lions stability in the middle. The truth is, England are starved of competent CM options and Jake Livermore is a tidy player that seems to epitomise Gareth Southgate’s hard-working philosophy.

 #1 Brazil flatter to deceive

Brazil - Jesus - Neymar

Brazil only managed 3 shots on target vs. England

For all their possession, trickery and top-quality players, Brazil really didn’t trouble England at all. Their fanciful one-twos on the edge of the box never really went anywhere and to be fair, England’s back three were comfortable for most parts of the match. Brazil only really created two clear-cut chances, but they were nothing even the incompetent Joe Hart couldn’t handle.

Perhaps it’s testament to England’s set-up that Brazil were so toothless in attack. But Brazil manager Tite will be upset that he named a near enough full strength XI and they couldn’t comfortably beat an England team missing several key players. Lest we forget, Gareth Southgate didn’t have; Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling. Imagine the result the last night if those guys had been playing.

About the Author Mathaeus Abuwa

Arsenal fan with a soft spot for Pascal Cygan.

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