Thursday, November 23, 2023

Playing like World Champions

 Brazil playing at home to the World Champions, their Argentinean rivals, is always bound to be a dramatic match. The World Cup qualifier a couple of days ago was no exception to the rule, and we even feared that the match would be suspended due to the fan disturbances before the start of the match.

It was sad to watch, but also odd how Brazilian police and stadium authorities appear to have next to no control over fans who are mixed in the stand, and to what the Argentinean players (who admirably rushed to defend their fans) appeared overly excessive reactions by Brazilian police.

Argentina, led by Messi, appeared ready to abandon the match, but in the end the match went ahead. One had to wonder how this dramatic start would affect either side. At least for the case of Argentina, the entire situation seemed to energize them, and in what became a rather dirty match, they were clearly much smarter than the Brazilians.

Brazil pressed high, made a lot of small fouls, specially on a dynamic Rodrigo de Paul who, as Messi largely disappeared from the match, took over the midfield with a fighting spirit, but also with small provocations for the Brazilians, who fell into the trap, and got a lot of yellow cards. At the same time, Brazil's pressure did not shake the Argentinean defense, who played the ball coldly around.

It was an intelligent and fighting Argentine side who got the winning goal on a header by the veteran Nicolas Otamendi following a corner.

Despite losing to Uruguay, Argentina remain head of the table. In the meantime Brazil are in shambles, on sixth spot, behind Ecuador. Were it not because most sides qualify, Brazil would be in risk, but I still think they will qualify.

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