Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho did not play their best games, but Brazil are going to the World Cup quarterfinals thanks to a 2-0 win over Mexico in the Round of 16. Neymar was the star man in this one, and Roberto Firmino also added a goal to what started as a tough game but became a comfortable victory for the Seleção.
Brazil were expected to win this match comfortably, but that’s not how this World Cup works. Mexico made a fantastic start to the game, dominating it for 20 minutes through high pressing, good passing and dangerous attacking moves. They didn’t let Brazil breathe at times, and they looked the more likely side to score.
But all the high pressing took a toll and Mexico were forced to drop a little deeper to catch their breath and stay defensively solid. That’s when Brazil began to dominate, with Coutinho and Neymar at the heart of every good move they put together. Each had one good chance to score, but Coutinho’s long distance shot went wide and Neymar’s run through the defense was blocked by goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
When we reached halftime, we were witnessing a very good, competitive football match. We just needed to see some goals in the second half.
The second half was dominated by Brazil, who did a much better job in possession and scored an early goal when Neymar and Willian combined for a fantastic opener from the former Barça star. Mexico could not put together any meaningful offense after conceding and limited themselves to desperate balls into the box hoping for something.
Nothing came of it, and Brazil comfortably managed the game until they found an opening to deliver the knockout blow: Neymar was put through on goal by Fernandinho, tried to finish it off but his shot was saved by Ochoa, however Roberto Firmino was alert to the rebound and made it 2-0 for the Brazilians.
The final whistle came, and the Seleção are perhaps the only big favorite to not really suffer in their Round of 16 match. They’ll probably face Belgium next, and that will be amazing.
Brazil: Alisson; Fágner, Thiago Silva, MIranda, Filipe Luis; Paulinho (Fernandinho), Casemiro, Coutinho (Firmino); Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar
Goals: Neymar (51’), Firmino (88’)
Mexico: Ochoa; Álvarez (Jonathan), Ayala, Salcedo, Gallardo; Herrera, Márquez (Layún), Guardado; Lozano, Hernández (Raúl), Vela