The international break is in full swing, and two Barcelona players were in action in Saudi Arabia as Brazil won 2-0 at the King Saud Stadium thanks to goals from Gabriel Jesus and Alex Sandro. Philippe Coutinho started for the Seleção and was replaced by his club teammate Arthur, but neither of the Blaugrana had a big impact on what was a pretty boring game.
For anyone expecting a walk in the park for Brazil, this was anything but that. Saudi Arabia were very well organized and played some lovely football, with short passing triangles and plenty of dangerous counter attacks. Al Faraj and Al Dawsari were causing all types of problems on the right side of Brazil’s defense whenever the Seleção lost the ball, and although they didn’t create any real chances, Saudi Arabia were very impressive.
Brazil had a new formation and struggled a bit to find any passing routines in midfield, with Renato Augusto and Fred moving all over the place looking to find spaces while Philippe Coutinho and Neymar tried to create all by themselves. For a while, the best chance Brazil had was on a header by Gabriel Jesus saved by the keeper, and the Seleção really wasn’t at its best in the first half.
Then, just before halfitme, the one moment of brilliance happened: after a ball recovered in midfield, Neymar played a gorgeous through ball that left Gabriel Jesus all alone in front of the keeper, and the Manchester City striker couldn’t miss.
At the half, it was a mediocre performance from Brazil, but they had the best players so they had the lead.
Brazil coach Tite made a bold change at halftime, taking off Fred for Lucas Moura, and the substitution had a positive effect at the start of the final period. Brazil were quicker and more direct, and both Lucas and Neymar had wonderful chances to double their team’s lead, but Lucas was denied by the keeper and Neymar hit the post.
After a quick start, however, Brazil went back to a more slower pace, while Saudi Arabia couldn’t show the same intensity from the first half and went to a more defensive shape. And when it seemed like we were headed for a boring finish, VAR stepped in and gave us some fun: goalkeeper Al Owais handled the ball outside the box but wasn’t spotted by the referee, and video assistance was required to give the Saudi keeper a red card.
There was time for Alex Sandro to score and double the lead, but this was still a narrow win for a Brazil side that really wasn’t impressive. Up next for them? Argentina, and they must play better in that one. Even without Lionel Messi on the other side.
Saudi Arabia: Al Owais; Al Burayk (Al Mowalad), Hawsawi, Albulayhi, Al Shahrani; Al Mogahwi (Ghareeb), Otayf, Al Faraj; Al Bishi (Al Shehri), Babhir (Malayekah), Al Dawsari (Sulaimani)
Brazil: Ederson; Fabinho, Marquinhos, Pablo, Sandro; Fred (Lucas), Casemiro (Walace), Augusto; Coutinho (Arthur), Jesus (Richarlison), Neymar
Goals: Gabriel Jesus (43’), Alex Sandro (90’+6)