Carlos Amadeu wanted more goals from his side. The head coach got one more than Brazil had scored in each of their league games. He got another consummate display too. By the end, Amadeu was content. Brazil had booked their place in the quarter-final, with a showdown against Germany awaited on Sunday.
This was the most convincing of 3-0 wins. Although Honduras struck the woodwork twice, one of them arrived long after the result was certain. Coach Amadeu’s boys once again showed why they are touted among the favourites for this World Cup. The ease with which they have strolled past their opponents has made them look very formidable.
After four games, Brazil has scored nine goals and conceded just one. There could have been additions to the scored column but the three-time World Cup winner have chosen to conserve their energies for the challenges ahead. Such has been the comprehensive nature of Brazil’s wins that a relatively relaxed approach in the second half has been a viable option.
The confident displays have also been a consequence of Amadeu sticking to his best starting eleven for all games, barring exceptional situations. Alan came back into the side on Wednesday, after he was benched for the final group game against Niger on account of him carrying a yellow card. The policy to protect him remains in place as he was substituted as soon as Brazil went three goals up against Honduras. Amadeu knows the value of an established starting eleven. The selected side plays in a fluid 4-3-3 formation, with their intricate passing combinations leaving opponents in trouble. Familiarity abets excellence.
It took just 10 minutes on Wednesday for the Brazilians to demonstrate what makes them tick. Marcos Antonio cut the ball back for Alan on the right, who was positioned at the corner of the box. Alan passed it on to the onrushing Wesley and continued his run. Alert to the possibilities, full-back Wesley wasted no time in finding the free Alan and the midfielder had the vision to set Brenner up for a tap-in. Brazil’s goals are magnificent not for their strikes, rather it’s the incisive pass-and-move football which delights the eye.
There was more but it took some time. Honduras had suffered two heavy defeats in the group stage, losing 1-6 to Japan and then 1-5 to France. But in their first game outside Guwahati, the Central Americans demonstrated more resilience. Coach Jose Valladares chose a 4-3-2-1 formation, with the three central midfielders sitting deep.
This tactic compressed space between defence and midfield, an acknowledgement from the Hondurans that they were playing one of the World Cup’s best teams. Brazil’s impeccable defensive record, though, was largely unthreatened. The low-risk situation also allowed the current South America champion to probe and prod Honduras, with their defenders pushing up.
Brazil’s sense of security is also helped by the defensive work done by Victor Bobsin. The midfielder expertly covers for his defenders while screening the backline with interceptions and tackles. Of course, he does not stop there. Bobsin is adept at reinitiating attacks from his own half, with his ball distribution rarely being wasteful.
So, Valladares’ wish remained unfulfilled. He could not disrupt Brazil’s superior ‘technical’ football. Before the match, Amadeu had discussed the advantages Brazil had over Honduras in the lead up to this encounter.
"We are totally satisfied to be back here in Kochi. We had more time to recover from the last match to this one against Honduras. But we are looking forward to play again because we are resting for too many days.”
The eagerness, the freshness and the familiarity with the venue was evident. Brazil sealed the win before the hour mark. First, with the half-time break hovering, Paulinho laid the ball to an unmarked Marcos Antonio in the box and the ball was slid home. Antonio would have been offside, if not for Honduras skipper Cristian Moreira who dropped deeper than his teammates.
The sprightly Hondurans lost some of their desire. Valladares sought to change the tactical outlook of the side by introducing Joshua Canales in the midfield for the second half, who took on a slightly more advanced role. Luis Palma was moved to the position of a lone forward. However, eleven minutes into the second half, a miscued attempt by Wesley knocked the ball into the path of Brenner who slammed it home. Brenner had this third goal of the World Cup; Brazil had three goals in a match for the first time in the tournament; they also had their sights set on the quarter-final.
Thereafter, Honduras tried to maintain their record of scoring in every game of this World Cup but Mejia, just like Palma in the opening half, could only find the upright. Brazil descended into lockdown mode. A 3-0 win was secured at the full time whistle.
Bigger battles lie in wait, namely Germany in Kolkata. Perhaps, the nature of victory in the coming matches will not be as comprehensive. But on current evidence, it will be a bit of surprise if Brazil ends up on the losing side on Sunday.
Updated Date: Oct 19, 2017 12:56:07 IST