Brazil’s stable, possession based, attacking style of play has hit the wall in group stages as they had many difficulties against Costa Rica and Switzerland who knew how to defend deep in low block, but also cut off their link up play and movement on the left flank.
MMost of Brazil’s attacks are based on those combinations out wide on the left, but they rarely exploited space in behind opponent’s full-backs and rather tried to play through opponent’s lines with short passing combinations.
- Against Serbia they altered their pattern a bit, mostly due to man marking applied by Serbia’s centre-backs, with Coutinho frequently making runs in behind right full-back to create a gap in halfspace for Neymar to move into.
One of Brazil’s biggest strengths is the ability to counter-press. Casemiro shifts towards left flank to cover the space behind attacking triangle, while Fagner is positioned in right halfspace. Counter-pressing is focused on central areas, and due to positioning of their players they have been quite vulnerable in behind Fagner and Marcelo. Mexico’s quick and direct counter-attacking patterns could create a lot of problems for them.
- Due to Brazil’s defensive organization and narrow lines, Mexico may find it difficult to open up diagonal passing lanes towards Vela and Hernandez that caused so much problems for opponents in the group stage. But, Mexico are very versatile and can find ways to create gaps for penetration. Long diagonal balls to switch sides are one of their weapons to open up opponent’s tight organization, with Lozano being quite a threat in 1v1 situations. He will be facing Fagner probably, so it is expected to he gets involved quite a lot.
This will be a match between two teams that possess different attacking styles of play, and it will be interesting to see whether Mexico’s direct and quick link up play can beat Brazil’s possession based style. And also, will the best counter-attacking team on the tournament manage to find ways to hurt one of the best counter-pressing teams on the tournament.