Friday, 11 November 2011

Mud, Sweat and Tears: Brazil Beat Gabon

On a pitch better suited to agriculture than to anything approaching jogo bonito, Brazil picked up a routine win over Gabon in Libreville. Anyone who had the (dis)pleasure of watching the match will understand the brevity of this post.

Gabon 0-2 Brazil
With the Campeonato Brasileiro reaching its climax, Mano Menezes chose not to select players based in his homeland, and thus provided a few less-celebrated names with a chance to shine. Goalkeeper Diego Alves was rewarded for his fine Valencia form with a first start, whilst Fábio da Silva and Adriano occupied the fullback roles. Opting for a relatively straightforward 4-2-2-2 formation, Menezes paired Elias with Tottenham Hotspur youngster Sandro in the midfield platform, with débutant Bruno César and Hernanes operating as meias. Hulk continued in attack, alongside former Grêmio poacher Jonas. This was certainly an inexperienced lineup: no player had an international goal to their name before kick-off.

Hulk battles for possession in Libreville.

After a lengthy power cut at the Stade de l'Amitié (which, annoyingly, was replicated in SKP's flat a short time later), the seleção quickly went about their business. Jonas and Adriano both went close before Sandro opened the scoring, bundling home after some ponderous defending from the hosts. Due to the atrocious conditions, however, Brazil were unable to assert any great authority on proceedings.

Gabon, buoyed by the local support, did offer a threat - particularly down their right, utilising the space vacated by the marauding Adriano. Diego Alves, though, dealt admirably with everything thrown at him. With halftime approaching, Brazil doubled their lead. Jonas' effort was only parried by Didier Ovono, allowing the alert Hernanes to nod home at the near post. The Lazio midfielder celebrated with relief: he had fluffed an easier opportunity just minutes earlier, to the visible chagrin of his coach.

The second half brought a raft of substitutions, which further disrupted the game's already-negligible rhythm. The seleção had two decent chances to put the match to bed: Bruno César - who looked bright on his second Brazil start - saw his goal-bound volley saved by Ovono, whilst Jonas failed to convert a good chance following some tidy approach play from Hernanes. Substitute Willian enjoyed a couple of nice runs late on, but the spectacle petered out long before the final whistle. Next up for Brazil: Egypt.

(Photo credit: Latin Content/Getty Images.)

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