No goals in a World Cup match for the second time in this tournament, as the two leaders of Group A, Brazil and Mexico, couldn’t find the net thanks to a wonderful performance from both Julio Cesar and the man of the match, Guillermo Ochoa, making quite a few incredible saves from point blank during the match.
Overall, Brazil were the more disappointed team going off the pitch in Fortaleza. The pressure is on them not just to win this tournament but to look great while doing it. Neymar tried but was once again a bit too selfish, staying too close to the congested middle instead of playing on the wings where he should be. However, his fantastic set pieces, be it corners or free kicks, resulted in some excellent chances for Brazil, very dominant in the air. However, time and time again it was Ochoa to the rescue.
Mexico dominated the midfield until the 65th minute or so by having an extra man there all the time. It was a weak performance from their forwards – Oribe Peralta and Giovani Dos Santos. Hector Herrera and Andre Guardado with his brilliant left foot were the best players for El Tri, who might have been on the defensive for most of the second half, but took their chances from long range all through the second half of the match, coming quite close to beating Cesar on a number of occasions.
However, the best chances belonged to Brazil. Neymar missed from five meters to make Ochoa look great, both in the first and second half. Thiago Silva headed a bullet straight to the middle but Ochoa was placed perfectly to show his instincts. Silva was unbeatable in the air, but the Mexican defense had someone to trust and cover for them. Fred, in an awful performance without any effect on the match also had his chance, and so did Paulinho and David Luiz.
Brazil were playing without Hulk and started with Ramires on the right wing, doing a terrible job of trying to emulate a forward. Bernard who came on in the second half did a better job, but it seems like Scolari is infatuated with his formation and is unwilling to make a change even when things aren’t going his way. Jo coming on for Fred and Willian for Oscar made absolutely no difference in the match.
Mexico were the happier team coming off the pitch. With four points after the first two matches, depending on what Croatia do against Cameroon, a draw might be enough for them on the final day, although they still have an inferior goal difference to Brazil. Brazil have their easiest match to look forward to against Cameroon in six days time, but this ability and lack of tactical flexibility is certainly something to worry about.