Not the perfect start for Brazil, but definitely a dreamy start for Neymar, who needed only three minutes to score what might already be the best goal of the Confederations Cup, paving the way from a clumsy yet promising 3-0 opening-match win over Japan.
It was the first time since taking over (again) the national team that Scolari used the same lineup two matches in a row, and it worked out pretty well for him, even if Dani Alves looked like someone intent on continuing his awful season into the summer, while Fred portrayed the incredible hard fact to grasp of Brazil currently having no reliable striker at this disposal.
But there was enough talent across the board to keep an industrious Japan at bay, but without having any forwards that could bother the excellent centre back combination of Thiago Silva and David Luiz, Julio Cesar never really faced a dangerous situation. Keisuka Honda and Shinji Kagawa had their nice moments, but nothing that was really something that had anyone on the Brazilian side too worried.
Neymar? Not a magical performance, but it’s impossible to complain after a stunning volley, coming off Fred’s chest, just outside the box, with only three minutes on the clock. This is supposed to be Brazil’s tournament, but Neymar having a big one seems just as important to a lot of people, setting himself up for a wonderful season with Barcelona after being signed for €57 million.
And besides the young star? A lot of wings being switched with Hulk and Oscar doing most of the work, while Luis Gustavo and Paulinho (who also scored the second goal) deserving quite a lot of accolades for their work in the midfield, which doesn’t usually show on the highlight reels at the end, but put on enough pressure to disrupt the possession and ball movement by the Japanese.
There might be more talented players waiting on the bench for Brazil, or even outside the squad called up for the tournament, but Scolari is looking to build a lineup, or a bit more than that, that is going to be better in 12 months, when the real test is up. Changing lineups twice a month isn’t going to bring this side anywhere, despite some fans wanting to see more of Lucas Moura on the pitch, or even try and play without a striker, something that is becoming more and more of a trend in world football.
Jô scoring the final goal of the match didn’t change the opinion that without Leandro Damião, the quality of target men Scolari has at his disposal is quite limited, and whatever greatness this team will achieve by the end of this tournament and hopefully when the world cup comes as well, it going to come thanks to talent that plays a bit further away from goal, as the strike by Neymar and the assist by Oscar proved that point.
Too many praises weren’t deserved, but there’s no reason to bash this team for a win against a Japanese side that’s always far from easy to beat, even if they were never close to scoring a goal. Brazil should get better, but so will the competition (Italy and Mexico), which means there’s no reason to be too happy about the opening win.