Brazil started Tuesday's World Cup Group A match with a midfield trio of Paulinho, Luiz Gustavo, and Ramires, who started on the right in place of usual starter Hulk. Oscar played slightly further forward between the midfield and attack.
But Ramires was taken off at halftime and Oscar was also substituted before the end, while Paulinho looked out of sorts and was lucky to last the whole 90 minutes in Fortaleza.
Manager Luiz Felipe Scolari said he took Ramires off because "he's an impetuous player who had a yellow card and we didn't want him getting a red."
But he cannot have been happy with the way defensive midfielders Luiz Gustavo and Paulinho gave the Mexican attackers far too much space.
The Mexicans let loose with shots from outside the box on several occasions and while most of them flew over they were getting into dangerous positions.
"Brazil need to mark, cut down space and not even let Mexicans think they can take the game to Brazil," former Brazil player and TV Globo commentator Casagrande said midway through the second half.
"They're shooting from far out. They've been doing this since the start but they're doing it a lot more in the second half and they are getting a lot of space. The Mexicans are using the space well but Brazil aren't even getting in a position to shoot," he said.
Scolari agreed and said he was also having trouble convincing his own players to follow suit and let fly with long-range efforts.
"Sometimes we passed instead of shooting," Scolari told reporters. "I tell them they sometimes need to have a go, they need to believe in their shooting."
With a solid looking defence and the attacking trio of Neymar, Fred and Hulk, who had been nursing a thigh problem, appearing set, Scolari's dilemma ahead of the final Group A match against Cameroon in Brasilia on Monday is who to play in midfield.
Paulinho looks jaded after a disappointing first season in England with Tottenham Hotspur and Luiz Gustavo also struggled to make an impact against the impressive Mexicans.
He may not want to risk Ramires and a second yellow that would lead to a one-match suspension but he will surely be tempted to give a run out to either Willian or Fernandinho, two players whose English Premier League form last season helped them force their way into the squad at the last minute.

Scolari pleased with team despite draw

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was pleased with the team's performance although the Selecao failed to score in front of a well-organised Mexican team here.

"In my opinion the team was at least better than what we played against Croatia. So the team is getting better and better," the 65-year-old coach said after his team was held to a scoreless draw by Mexico in their second World Cup Group A match on Tuesday.

"We are improving and we still have a way to go and we can play good quality football. Although we did not reach the result we expected, I was really happy with what I saw on the pitch," Scolari said.

"We have three or four very good opportunities today but they had a very good keeper," Scolari added, referring to Mexico's 28-year-old goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa who produced a series of impressive saves in the match, including two promising opportunities from Brazil's star striker Neymar.

However, Scolari did not think the 22-year-old Barcerona player should be blamed and he also denied the claim that the whole team was relying too much on Neymar.

"Well, Neymar cannot win or lose on his own. He is part of the group and in the group he has the potential which is higher sometimes than the others," Scolari said.

"He can win or lose with the group. We will keep on working so that with or without Neymar we will be able to win," he said.

The 27-year-old Zenit St. Petersburg striker Hulk was on the bench on Tuesday and Scolari revealed it was Hulk himself who decided to rest in order to avoid any injury risk.

"He could have played and he decided to stay on the bench," Scolari said.

"So we decided to start with Ramires. We will be working with Hulk this week if he feels better, and if he believes the pain he is feeling is normal for any player, because exam showed he is OK. He can be in the pitch against Cameroon," he said.


Latest News from Sports News Desk