Brazil’s recent struggles continued with a lacklustre 1-1 draw with Nigeria in Singapore on Sunday afternoon.
The Seleção are without a win in four games since lifting the 2019 Copa America title, although they did come from behind to pick up this result thanks to Casemiro’s finish, which cancelled out Joe Aribo’s opener.
But who were the big winners and losers from the international friendly match?
Read on to find out….
Winner: Joe Aribo
What a start Aribo has made to international football.
The 23-year-old Rangers midfielder bagged a goal on his Nigeria debut in September, opening the scoring in a 2-2 draw with Ukraine, and now, he’s made it two in two, by putting the Super Eagles ahead against Brazil. Not a bad pair of teams to open your international account against.
Class finish from Joe Aribo for Nigeria vs Brazil 👏 pic.twitter.com/VQxdyLwtWR
— 🇬🇧 WATP.com 🇬🇧 (@WATP_com) October 13, 2019
Prior to Sunday’s game, it was thought that Rangers manager Steven Gerrard was left rather displeased at the fact Aribo had been included in the Nigeria squad, given he’s been out injured during the weeks leading up to this international break.
However, his sharpness in the box to turn Marquinhos and Thiago Silva inside out and slip the ball beyond Ederson showed he’ll be in great shape when he returns to Glasgow, carrying the confidence of a goal against the five-time world champions with him.
Losers: Neymar & Thomas Tuchel
Neymar has already spent a colossal 177 days on the treatment table during 2019. Remember, we’ve only had 286 days of the year so far!
The 27-year-old hasn’t been able to catch a break from injury recently and that wretched luck seems set to continue after he limped off just 12 minutes into Sunday’s match with what appears to be a hamstring injury.
Given his recent susceptibility, this was always going to be a risk, but with Neymar already scoring four goals in five Ligue 1 games so far this season, PSG will now be monitoring his situation with great concern.
The Parisians limped over the line in the league last season in his absence thanks to their massive points lead but flopped in cup competitions – Thomas Tuchel cannot afford another repeat of that and losing his most high-profile player to another injury won’t help his cause.
While Brazil struggled to assert their dominance in the final third during the first half, they never surrendered their stranglehold on possession. In the second half, they spent large periods camped in the Nigeria half and put the Super Eagles under intense pressure.
None of this would have been possible without the efforts of Real Madrid’s Casemiro. The 27-year-old was a passing metronome at the base of the Brazil midfield, keeping his side ticking from side to side and front to back, while he also made a match-high seven tackles. On the ball and off the ball, he made sure Brazil were solid and fluid.
Casemiro carrying his NT since years. Beast pic.twitter.com/wOYt0ErEnT
— ℒ𝓊𝓀𝒶🌹❁ (@RM_Modric10) October 13, 2019
Casemiro was rewarded for his efforts when he bagged the equalising goal shortly after half-time, reacting quickest in the box after a Marquinhos’ header bounced back off the crossbar following a Dani Alves corner.
He could (and probably should) have even made it 2-1 on the hour-mark when he broke free on the edge of the six-yard box to hit the crossbar from another corner.
Regardless, Casemiro looked sharp, commanding and authoritative in the midfield and Brazil owe a lot to him for avoiding embarrassment on Sunday – can he lead Real Madrid in the same way as they seek to salvage their Champions League campaign?
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Loser: Francis Uzoho
Just like Brazil, Nigeria’s main loser on Sunday comes as a result of an injury.
Francis Uzoho was putting in a wonderful performance against Brazil, pulling off a number of athletic and instinctive saves to keep Tite’s side at bay as they pushed for more goals during the second half.
However, disaster struck in the second half as Uzoho landed awkwardly while trying to deny a Casemiro effort which hit the crossbar, jarring his knee in such unsettling fashion that you could hear the gasps and exasperation around the stadium as the replays were put up on the big screen.
Nigeria aren’t known for producing top-class goalkeepers but the form of this 20-year-old since making his debut in 2017 has suggested they may be putting such struggles behind them. Let’s hope the injury isn’t as serious as it looked on first viewing.
Richarlison’s debut season at Everton yielded 14 goals and earned him his first senior call-up for Brazil, which eventually saw him lift the Copa America title. It’s fair to say 2019/20 has not been as kind to him so far.
The 22-year-old is now without a goal in his last nine games for club and country since bagging a brace against Wolves back in August.
And on Sunday, he really did look jaded. Richarlison fired a glorious opportunity wide just moments after coming on and every time he got on the ball, he ran himself into dead ends, seemingly incapable of any meaningful acceleration.
Richarlison is still young and has already shown enough at Premier League and international level that he will be a top-class player. But thanks to this summer’s Copa America, he hasn’t had a meaningful break for a couple of years now and it’s starting to show.
That said, given Everton’s struggles this season, it’s hard to see Marco Silva pulling him out of the firing line any time soon.