Monday, March 25, 2013

Russia 1-1 Brazil: Second-string Russian side lacks killer instinct over Brazil

Russia performed incredibly well by sitting deep and attacking on the counter, but a profligate frontline of Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Aleksandr Kokorin failed to put away chance after chance and allowed Brazil to hold onto a draw at Stamford Bridge.

football formationsFabio Capello selected a number of lesser quality players for his side, although both teams started the match somewhat with a number of players playing in unfamiliar positions. Brazil remained in their typical 4-2-3-1 with Neymar central and Kaka and Oscar cutting in from wide, while Russia played a 4-3-3 with the regular winger of Bystrov playing centrally. Kokorin and Faizulin, the wingers for the side also came very central, crowding the centre of the pitch.

Russia started on the front foot, having four good chances within the opening quarter of an hour. Kerzhakov had a volley blocked by Thiago Silva barely two minutes into the game and Sergei Ignashevich had a free kick saved by Julio Cesar less than a minute later. Brazil slowly got into a rhythm and held possession for most of the half, but had few chances to go ahead. Neymar put a simple shot over the bar in the 23rd minute, while Faizulin spurned a chance on a counter-attack up the other end in the 41st.

The half saw a number of substitutions for Russia, who saw international stalwart Yuri Zhirkov introduced for the poor Kokorin while Dmitri Kombarov replaced excellent right back Aleksandr Anyukov. Brazil immediately started the second half better than the first, having a number of chances from Fred and Neymar fall slightly wide. Russia's first major attack of the half led to a corner that troubled Brazil, with Silva barely blocking the ball on the line but failing to prevent Faizulin from pouncing on the rebound and putting the Europeans in front. Marcelo came close to equalising in the 75th minute after substitute Hulk made an excellent run into the box, but the left back put the ball wide. It was not until the 90th minute that Brazil got their goal, as Marcelo sent a low cross at the feet of Fred, who made his first major contribution of the night with his goal.

Fabio Capello set his Russia side up to deal specifically with the opponents on hand, something which he has shown the ability to do so far in his time with the former Soviet team. His squad selection may have left some wondering however, with Alan Dzagoev and Igor Akinfeev failing to appear and Yuri Zhirkov relegated to an appearance off the bench. Nevertheless, Russia looked more comfortable in their system than Brazil and were unlucky not to take the win.

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