Four-goal hero Careca on song in annihilation of Venezuela
Last weekend in Chile saw Brazil return home with a precious point, even if they felt robbed after some major decisions had gone against them. Still, the group favourites had avoided defeat in their most tricky tie of their four World Cup qualifiers, and it was time to refocus for the visit of lowly Venezuela. Nothing but a victory by a landslide margin would be good enough; they’d want to boost their goal difference ahead of the return encounter with the Chileans. Venezuela had, as expected, lost both their matches in the qualification so far, even if the Brazilians had struggled for more than an hour in Carecas. They had also played well in spells against Chile, but had faded towards the end, when goalkeeper Baena had stood between them and a severe defeat. A packed Estádio do Morumbi, with more than 100 000 people crowded together, would offer the Venezuelans little respite.
The table reads thus:
Team news Brazil
The game in Santiago the previous weekend had taken its toll on several of the Brazilian players, even to such an extent that some were doubtful for the visit of Venezuela. At least early in the week leading up to the game. Full-backs Branco and Mazinho had both come off injured in Chile, with the former’s left knee and ankle well bruised after the heavy challenge which the hosts’ Raúl Ormeño had performed on him after two minutes of play. Mazinho was feeling a muscle strain in his left thigh, also the cause why he came off to be replaced by André Cruz late on. Ultimately, Branco would be fit enough to be part of the matchday squad, whilst Mazinho would have to withdraw. Even Jorginho had struggled, but he eventually came through. Team doctor Lídio Toledo was working overtime.
There were a total of five changes in the squad from the previous weekend. In addition to Mazinho, fellow defender Aldair (chronical problems in his right knee) had to pull out due to injury. The same applied for André Cruz, who had come on for the final quarter of an hour in Chile. Back-up goalkeeper Zé Carlos was replaced by Acácio for reasons unknown, although the latter’s availability was probably what saw him retake his position in the squad behind first pick Taffarel. Romário was obviously suspended following the red card, and Brazil were fearing that he would now be suspended until the World Cup proper (three matches). It all hinged on the referee’s report, and a decision was likely due any time. The situation was likened to that of Toninho Cerezo (currently at Sampdoria) in 1981, who had been sent off in a qualifier against Bolivia in La Paz, something which saw him miss three subsequent telling matches through suspension (Bolivia and Venezuela at home in the qualification, as well as the opening ’82 World Cup tie against the Soviet Union).
Josimar had been called upon due to the full-back doubts and troubles, and with Mazinho finally pulling out, the ’86 star was secured a place among the 16. Also, with Aldair unavailable, São Paulo’s own Ricardo Rocha had arrived at the team’s preparation centre in the city of Teresópolis, Rio de Janeiro (state). He, too, would be among the 16. On this occasion, Brazil had rather included an extra attacking player instead of yet another defensive option, something which was fairly understandable considering the opposition. Flamengo’s Renato Gaúcho and Vasco da Gama’s Tita, a clever gentleman, a polyglot in command of Spanish, English, German and Italian, were both drafted in, while Careca, who had been injured during the Copa América, was getting fitter by the day, and appeared a likely starter in the PSV star’s absence.
A player who had been on stand-by for a place in the 16 man strong matchday squad was São Paulo’s forward Edivaldo. He had ultimately been omitted, though.
Team news Venezuela
Venezuela had last been in action when they had lost 3-1 at home to Chile in their second World Cup qualifier two weeks earlier, and since then manager Carlos Moreno had made three changes to the squad of 16. Two of the three players who had come into the squad had been in their matchday squad when they had lost 4-0 at home to Brazil in their opener: full-back William Pacheco and forward Wilton Arreaza. In addition, they also had 23 year old Deportivo Táchira forward Martín Tarazona drafted in on this occasion.
The three players who had given way since a fortnight ago were teenage full-back Jorge Betancourt, energetic midfielder Bernardo Añor and forward Ildemaro Fernández. The latter had scored their goal, their only in the qualification so far, and he had showed in patches how he could be a threat with his pace. Arreaza, who had come into the squad in his place, was more a powerfully built forward; he was less explosive, but could perhaps use other attributes to the team’s advantage.
Vinotinto boss, Argentinian Carlos Moreno, had used different formations, both from the outset and also switched during games so far. They could play with either four or five at the back, usually with three in midfield, and with Copa América sensation Carlos Maldonado in a free attacking midfield role, without too much defensive responsibility. They would also typically feature at least one wide forward, and in both their two previous qualifiers, the right-sided attacker (Fernández and Gallardo respectively) had looked to exploit the space behind the opposition’s left-back.
Moreno had been quoted in the Brazilian press prior to the game saying that he “had expected” the Chileans to approach him, begging him to set their team up so that they don’t concede a lot of goals. Whether it happened or not, the media didn’t say anything about… Chile’s hope of making it through to Italia ’90 lay in outscoring the Brazilians against Venezuela, and then snatching a draw in Rio de Janeiro on the final day of qualification.
38 year old Italy born Uruguayan citizen Ernesto Filippi had been tasked with refereeing this fixture. His record only boasted Copa Libertadores action apart from domestic league matches, though he had officiated in ten matches outside of his country’s borders since his first continental cup tie in ’82. This was his first ever assignment in Brazil, and obviously his first ever international appointment.
Nine earlier clashes between Brazil and Venezuela had all yielded wins for the canaries. The most recent encounter had been the opposite fixture only three weeks earlier, while Brazil had won 3-1 in the opening game of the recently held Copa América. That had, incidentally, been the first time ever that Venezuela had scored a goal against the Brazilians.
The past meetings had come in World Cup qualification or in the continental championships. They had met ahead of the 1970 tournament in Mexico and before Spain ’82. Brazil had recorded 6-0 and 5-0 wins respectively. The Vinotinto‘s Copa América record on Brazilian soil read 0-6 (in ’75) and 1-3 (on 1 July).
Estádio do Morumbi
Brazil had gone ten years without a win at the Morumbi. Not since a 1979 2-0 Copa América win against Bolivia had the Paulistas been able to revel in a Seleção victory. They’d played just four matches there during that period of time, though: Three friendlies as well as the 1-1 draw against Bolivia in qualification for the 1986 World Cup.
In excess of 100k were expected for this fixture. It was 26 degrees around the time of kick-off.
|3 Ricardo Rocha||26||São Paulo|
|4 Mauro Galvão||27||Botafogo|
|6 Ricardo Gomes (c)||24||Benfica|
|7 Bebeto||25||Vasco da Gama|
|8 Dunga||sub 67′||25||Fiorentina|
|10 Silas||23||Sporting Lisboa|
|11 Valdo||sub 73′||25||Benfica|
|12 Acácio||30||Vasco da Gama|
|14 Alemão||on 67′||27||Napoli|
|15 Tita||on 73′||31||Vasco da Gama|
|16 Renato Gaúcho||26||Flamengo|
|1 César Baena||28||Caracas|
|2 René Torres||28||Mineros|
|3 Andrés Paz||25||Atlético Táchira|
|4 Pedro Acosta (c)||29||Caracas|
|5 William Pacheco||27||Atlético Táchira|
|6 Roberto Cavallo||22||Deportivo Italia|
|7 Wilton Arreaza||sub 77′||23||Caracas|
|8 Nelson Carrero||31||Caracas|
|9 Pedro Gallardo||sub h-t||20||ULA Mérida|
|10 Carlos Maldonado||26||Atlético Táchira|
|11 Héctor Rivas||20||Marítimo de Venezuela|
|12 José Gomez||25||Mineros|
|x José Lopez||29||Marítimo de Venezuela|
|x Zdenko Morovic||22||Marítimo de Venezuela|
|15 Martín Tarazona||on 77′||23||Atlético Táchira|
|16 Juan Pedro Febles||on h-t||31||Marítimo de Venezuela|
The two teams come marching on to the pitch accompanied by a crescendo of sound created by the packed stadium. There’s clearly a massive expectancy in the air, with the fans eyeing a victory by a landslide margin. If Venezuela had felt any cause for optimism, it would’ve been difficult to say where it had come from. However, they were accustomed to the role of the underdog, and were surely professional enough not to let the surroundings affect them too much.
In Santiago last Sunday, the execution of the two countries’ national anthems had been brief: Both Chile’s and Brazil’s version had been executed in intro-versions, something which had seemed to surprise at least a couple of the Brazilian players back then. Today saw the return to the norm, and whilst the visitors were shown due respect, having their full anthem performed first, plenty supporters joined in when it was time for o Hino Nacional Brasileiro.
When looking at the respective line-ups, it was clear that Careca was, as had been expected, a starter, featuring in the coveted number 9 shirt. There was also a place in the eleven for local centre-back Ricardo. As for the away side, full-back William Pacheco was reinstalled in the eleven after having missed out on the loss against Chile, whilst there was a first start in the qualification for powerful forward Wilton Arreaza. That meant two changes for both teams since their last matches.
Kick-off was Venezuela’s to tackle. They would set the game in motion through two of their more advanced players in Pedro Gallardo and Carlos Maldonado.
Baena tested right away
In last Sunday’s tie, it took a mere minute and 50 seconds until the game boiled over. This time around, there are no such mean undertones, and with proceedings a minute and 45 seconds old in São Paulo, Brazil test Venezuela ‘keeper César Baena for the first time. There had been a first foul of the game just prior, as Careca had been brought down by Andrés Paz, the visiting centre-back, some 30 yards from the byline, along the hosts’ left hand channel, and an alert Valdo spotted Paulo Silas unattended in the centre of the pitch. A quick pass later, and the home side’s number 10 can take aim at goal. Almost standing still, he gets an impressive amount of pace on the shot, and the direction’s not bad either, as Baena needs to tip it over his crossbar and away for a flag kick. Surely, just a message of what was about to come.
The Venezuelans’ 28 year old custodian had excelled in both matches so far, and despite shipping seven goals in two matches, he had been their outstanding performer. He did seem a very capable resource for a team like the visitors, who were fairly limited in various positions around the pitch. Granted, they did have endeavour and heart, but against top quality opposition, this could only take them so far. They had ultimately been well exposed by both Brazil and Chile in their two Caracas qualifiers. Baena had done well both with efforts from distance and also when he’d been worked from close range. He was an agile goalkeeper, quick in coming off his line when the situation demanded it. He was also equipped with a fine leap to catch high balls, so all round the FC Caracas player was a reliable bet between the visitors’ sticks.
While both Brazil and Chile had scored after only six minutes during their respective wins in the Venezuelan capital, today’s visitors had still made it somewhat hard on the opposition early on, when their stamina was still on par with that of the opponents. When they had began to tire, that was when Venezuela would crumble. On this occasion, they would let Valdo burst into the area from the left hand side approaching seven and a half minutes of play. He looked to have been bundled over by the away side’s right-back William Pacheco, though the referee had none of it. Not that Valdo made anything out of it either, so the ‘play on’ decision was probably just.
Hosts strike early
Nine and a half minutes into the contest, Brazil move in front with their second attempt on goal. It is a failed goal kick from captain Acosta, which had been prolongued by Paz, that set the hosts up for a lethal attack which was delightfully worked between Bebeto and Silas. The latter returned the ball for Bebeto to the right inside the area, and with time to look up and execute his cross to perfection, the Brazil number 7 found his front partner with a delightfully flighted assist for a head conversion and 1-0. “Ele sabe tudo!” shouts the extatic Brazilian commentator about Careca, who celebrated his return to the side with a ten minute goal. And yes, Careca has a lot of on-pitch know-how, and he had freed himself from his marker with great ease here.
The home side do not quite manage to display a level of fluency which takes the visitors apart. However, it is still very early in the game, and they do have their lead. The Chileans will be watching in agony, hoping that the visitors can keep their defence as tight as possible, at least for another while yet. Brazil dominate possession, but their play is somewhat staccato; rhythm is yet absent.
Venezuela have packed their defensive line with five men, where two are with marking responsibility, and the same also goes for a third man, one of their midfielders. The pace of the game is yet not terrifying, and so the visitors are holding their own, despite the fact that they had gone a goal down on ten minutes. So far, they’ve not mounted any serious attacks, though there had been a solitary occasion when they’d made it to the border of the Brazilian area, with midfield playmaker Nelson Carrero going down in a challenge with Jorginho. Never a penalty.
Despite their failure to really ignite, the hosts add a second on 17 minutes. Like at 1-0, it is another Careca header, and the finish itself carries a lot of similarity with their opener. When Héctor Rivas, the Venezuelan left-back, concedes a throw-in near his own corner flag, Jorginho is quick to pick the ball up and aim for Valdo, who is positioned just outside the visitors’ area to the right. He is looked after by midfield man Roberto Cavallo, one of the real grafters in the visiting team, but on this occasion Valdo manages to turn the number 6 with ease, and he can aim his cross towards the back post, where Careca rises to connect and direct past Baena. The hosts are proving deadly efficient thus far.
With the opening half surpassing its halfway stage, the only question is by how big a margin the home side are going to win. The two goals had been excellent headed efforts by that man Careca (‘the bald one’), though Brazil have yet to be firing on all cylinders. Venezuela have not shown a whole lot possession wise, something which has usually seen them concede the ball after only a small handful of passes within their team.
A look at Venezuela
Sitting as deep as they are, the Venezuelans keep inviting Brazil onto them. The five man defensive line tends to drop back to around their 18 yard box, and the way their midfield is set up, they are typically outnumbered, unless Maldonado can be bothered to track back. It is hardly his favourite task.
It is a Vinotinto select which carries much resemblance to what we’ve already seen in this qualification; Morenho has sprung few surprises. Like last time against the Brazilians, William Pacheco is performing at right-back. He is hardly an attacking force, but he defends astoutedly, and has already come close to conceding a penalty after that tackle inside the area on Valdo. Pacheco has René Torres inside him as the right-sided centre-half, though Torres’ main assignment is looking after home striker Bebeto, who usually runs into this territory. The 28 year old of Mineros had played at right-back last time around, but like several of his team mates, he was capable of performing in various positions.
Inside him, right in the heart of their defence, the visitors had captain Pedro Acosta, who, probably after ‘keeper Baena, had been their stand-out player so far. Acosta was an accomplished, calm authority at the back, where he led by example. He positioned himself well, he read the game, he would usually distribute when he had the chance to pick a team mate out in an advanced position, and he was even a decent player in the air. To Acosta’s immediate left was the other man-marker, Andrés Paz, whose job it was to try and keep watch over Careca. It had only partly been a success hitherto. Venezuela’s left-back was the powerful Héctor Rivas, the man equipped with perhaps the finest left foot in their side. He had been acting as a defensive midfielder and a left-sided centre-half in the two other matches. Now, he was often faced by Jorginho as the hosts were looking to threaten down their right hand side.
The three men in midfield seemed to operate with not a whole lot of synchronization: There was Roberto Cavallo sitting in front of his defence, somewhat towards the left, where he would often come in contact with Brazil’s most advanced midfielder (Silas), while arguably their more skillful ball player, Nelson Carrero, worked ahead of Cavallo in central midfield. His task it was to aim it in the forward direction, and to conjure up something a bit unexpected. However, he was being swarmed by opponents once coming into possession, so the hosts were well aware of his qualities. Ahead of Carrero was Carlos Maldonado, who definitely had shown some nice close control and an ability to advance past a man or two ball at feet, but in general he had not quite offered what had possibly been expected of him after that Copa América effort. Maldonado was working in that advanced central midfield role, looking to play in either forward, or to transport and strike at goal himself. He had assisted for Fernández’ goal against Chile, but that apart, he’d not exerted himself as a potential threat.
The strikers are young Pedro Gallardo to the right, that typical wide right role which we had seen from the same man in the previous qualifier, and indeed from Ildemaro Fernández in the opener against Brazil. This time around, there was even a wide left forward in Wilton Arreaza, a powerfully built battler, who did his utmost to keep width, and who would put himself about in challenges against several Brazilian players.
…and the home side
Around 25 minutes in, and Brazil have a two goal cushion, though they’ll be hoping, and surely even realizing, that their advantage will be increased. So far, their attacking play had not quite been dazzling, though they did have some big shooters, with both Silas and Valdo posing threats from distance. And Careca’s two tremendous leaps for the goals were unrivalled. However, one could be expecting more, and Bebeto had yet to come into the game, looking somewhat uninterested towards the left hand channels.
Taffarel was Sebastião Lazaroni’s obvious first pick for the goalkeeper’s position, while that three man central defensive line ahead of him again was intact this time around. The manager had tinkered with his formation for the trip to Caracas, but three central defenders seemed to be a foregone conclusion. They were libero Mauro Galvão, captain Ricardo Gomes to his left, and with another Ricardo, Rocha, featuring in the position which Aldair had held for the two first qualifiers. As you’d expect from a Brazilian centre-half, they were all accomplished in possession, and neither player had anything against carrying the ball into the opposition’s half. So far, Ricardo Paulista (‘Paulista’ is a reference to a person from São Paulo, which was his home city) was the main man in this regard, looking to nick the ball off Arreaza and then advance ball at feet, or look to interact with Jorginho to his right.
Left-sided player Branco had taken that big hit early in the game last weekend, but fortunately, he was available for selection again, even if both his knee and ankle had been very sore during the week. Branco was the designated corner taker from the right, meaning he had to come across from his wide left position, and when he had hit a flag kick into the area, he would usually remain towards the right hand side, taking his time in finding back to his original location. This occured several times during the first half, and the idea could well have been to create an overload against the Venezuelan defensive left hand side, with him and Jorginho linking up. It was, incidentally, the latter’s first start of the qualification, with Mazinho out injured after his thigh strain last Sunday.
The midfield three remained Dunga in the deep role, Valdo to his slightly advanced left, while Paulo Silas worked ahead of them both, with some right hand channel tendencies. As they had proved during the continental championships recently, they were a coherent and well-working unit, and Dunga had such presence in that rear position. He would look to stifle any threat which Maldonado would have in mind, and he would also contribute in the forward direction, well capable of distributing towards both flanks as he was. Valdo was always so pleasing on the eye, looking totally assured in possession, almost dancing past an opponent, while Silas was the link-up player, often trying to engage with Careca ahead of him.
Careca was clearly relishing being in the starting eleven, and he did look to be back in shape after his injury problems which had made him miss out on the Copa América. The Italy based star was playing right through the centre, giving his marker Paz all sorts of problems, both with his strength and not least his aerial ability. Playing off the number 9, towards the left, was Bebeto, who had done well in their two first qualifiers, but who so far had rarely exerted himself.
With the pace of the game not too high, Venezuela are coping well with the hosts. However, Brazil are just a surge in tempo away from another opportunity, and with 26 minutes gone, they work themselves into the area after a sweet piece of creativity by Silas, who had lured Acosta towards the left edge of his area. Maldonado, who had probably been instructed to accept greater defensive responsibility, had tracked Valdo’s run into the area, and when Silas cleverly played in his midfield colleague, who burst into the box from the Brazilian right, the visitors’ number 10 clumsily brought Valdo down by the use of his right arm. The referee, who was impeccably positioned three yards away, immediately pointed to the spot. Valdo himself took the penalty (Careca had not tried to claim it in his quest for a hat-trick), but Baena flung himself to his right and palmed it away for a Brazil left wing corner. It was a superb save by the ‘keeper, although it had been struck at an ideal ‘keeper’s height.
In the wake of that missed penalty, it is hardly a slick home side we’re seeing. They look laboured; at times they look disinterested. They have a two goal advantage, it should’ve been three, but they’re expected to dish out a real thrashing today. Inspiration must come from somewhere, but it seems hard to find. Branco has a go, a half volley from 30 yards which goes way over, and then the same player is adjudged offside after their best attack for a while, when Silas had played him through to the right inside the area. On 35 minutes, there’s even the visitors’ first attempt at goal, when Arreaza, off balance, fires wide from 20 yards.
Branco appearing to the right has been a hot topic during the first half. It had recently happened as he’d been called just offside, but on 37 minutes he’s popping up in that area otherwise reserved for Jorginho again. He’s followed by Valdo, who takes a short pass from the full-back and then sends it low into the area. No defender can get to the cross; only Careca can. The Brazil two-goal scorer lays it off for Silas, who appears just outside the area, and hits a low first time shot towards the bottom left corner of Baena’s goal. The ‘keeper could’ve been unsighted, because he’s unable to get to it in time: Silas’ effort sneaks in just inside the upright for 3-0. Despite the hosts being in the ascendancy, their efficiency has been their most remarkable asset of the afternoon so far (even taking into consideration that saved penalty).
Just over two minutes later, and it is four. Branco, who by now is more a feature towards the right than his original left, is fouled from behind by Pacheco, who has tracked him across. 24 yards out, in the right handed channel, Branco prepares to swing one in with his left foot, until Silas suddenly makes a run to his right and receives the ball. It is clearly a well-rehearsed free-kick routine, and it takes the Venezuelans by surprise. No one has realized that Silas is completely unattended to, and the number 10 can dart towards the byline before he sends a low cross into the six yard area. Only the visiting skipper is there, and while we’ve rightfully praised Acosta earlier, it is a clumsy action by the libero which turns the ball into the back of the net: He misses the ball completely with his left foot when attempting to clear, and it goes on to strike his left before ending up in goal. 4-0 even before half-time is beginning to look like something which Lazaroni would’ve ordered.
Through to half time
Having slumbered for large spells of the half, Brazil were all of a sudden threatening to run riot. A four goal first half haul is no mean feat against any opponent, and it could so easily have been a fifth a minute and a half after Acosta’s contribution. A short Jorginho corner from the right was played to Valdo, who in turn swung the ball high into the area, where Ricardão (Ricardo Gomes) crushed Acosta in the air, heading it on for Careca, who four yards out headed it more or less straight at Baena. The ‘keeper instinctively turned it away for another flag kick, the ball exiting just by the side of the post. A hat-trick of headed goals would’ve been a nice feat for the distinguished striker.
The crowd respond to this late excitement with their version of ‘the Mexican Wave’. While the visitors had likely tired, the hosts at last had found their missing inspiration. They were looking to add to the tally even before the break, though there’s no such joy. The Venezuelans, who had held out for so long, and contained the hosts well, were all of a sudden finding themselves on the wrong end of a scoreline which could assume disastrous proportions, even by their standards. Whether they actually had it in them to raise their game could be questioned. A minute and 17 seconds into time added on, they were temporarily put out of their misery by the half-time whistle.
When the two sides have returned back to the pitch, it is the home team which will get the ball rolling for the final 45 minutes. They have their strike duo of Bebeto and Careca to kick the game back into action. Will we be seeing more of the former? He had had a surprisingly low-key opening half, whilst his partner had notched the hosts’ first two goals, and indeed proved to be a real thorn in the Venezuelans’ side.
While there are no player changes in the Brazilian select, Venezuela have made a half-time substitution: Wide right forward Pedro Gallardo, who, in all honesty, had had a very bleak half, had remained in the dressing room, and out on to the pitch in his place had come the experienced Juan Pedro Febles. He had started their opening qualifier, and then come on as a second half substitute in the loss to Chile two weeks ago. Febles was a much more robust kind of player than Gallardo, and he enjoyed fine reputation back home. He was capable of holding the ball up, something which the visitors could do well with the way the game is going.
Despite that four goal cushion: Had Brazil reached full dominance level yet? Well, possession wise they had obviously been superior, but there had been some sluggish parts in their play, with fluency not always present. Venezuela had defended very deep, something which surely had a say, too, and though they were already beaten, you would not expect the visitors to try and take the hosts on and come out all guns blazing. Opening up would only expose defensive gaps, and Venezuela were most likely looking to keep the scoreline down at a ‘respectable’ level.
Venezuela at the start of the second half
The Venezuelans had struggled to keep their intensity up towards the game’s latter stages in their first two qualifiers, something which is not a good omen for them, as they’re four goals down, and hardly see the ball at all. When they gain possession, they will only maintain it for a few pass sequences until the ball is back with the home side. While the visiting players have battle in them, only a couple of them are technically gifted enough to beat a man along the ground. Maldonado is one, but he’s closely monitored by Dunga whenever he’s in possession.
In withdrawing Gallardo, Venezuela have lost pace up front, as Febles is a vastly different kind of player. However, Gallardo displayed during the first 45 minutes how he had pace but little else, and in the experienced 31 year old substitute, manager Moreno was compensated through physical presence. While Gallardo had featured wide to the right, Febles had come on in a more central role, albeit with left-sided tendencies. It would look like Febles had been brought on with a view to halting Brazil’s progress from the inside right or even wide right positions, where Silas and Jorginho respectively were posing threats. However, there was also Ricardo Rocha, who would march forward from his right-sided centre-back position. Arreaza, wide left during the first half, had now switched to Gallardo’s former wide right position.
The Vinotinto had not only made changes in personnel, but also in the order of appearance among their defensive five. Pacheco, who had been at right-back during the first half, had switched over to the left, with previous left-back Rivas taking a step inside to perform centre half duties. Acosta was still sweeping behind the other defenders, with Paz still sticking to Careca now in the second half. This all meant that Torres, initially at centre-back, had now switched to the right-back position. It was only really Paz who was working as a man-marker, as Bebeto didn’t really have a designated observer, since he would often move from right to left. Rivas, therefore, was more zonally orientated at centre-back than Paz was. In midfield, the respective first half positions seemed to remain the same.
Brazil are gradually turning the screw on the visitors at the start of the second half. They do look to be moving with greater zest, and they have some interchanges of positions which are amusing to watch, and surely more difficult to defend against. It had been mentioned how Ricardo Paulista had advanced so smoothly with the ball at his feet during the first half, and he shows a similar approach after the break, engaging in play with the more advanced team mates. Ten minutes in, and he’s made it from his own half and into the penalty area, where he’s returned the ball by Silas after a fine initiative, though only to have a poor touch and see the ball run all the way through to Baena.
It is particularly in midfield where Brazil are superior. Their trio now take fewer touches and often play the ball on first time, making it almost impossible for the visiting players to get anywhere near Dunga, Silas and Valdo. There are some delightful combinations, and when they can showcase their silky skills without an opponent immediately nearby, the Brazilian team can make swift advance and create opportunities with great regularity.
The hosts are often looking to exploit their strengths in the wide positions, something which sees both Jorginho and Branco well involved, and before we’ve had ten minutes of play in the second half, both wide men have had goal attempts, and in fact two each. Jorginho had made Baena work with an effort from inside the area after a Valdo pass, while Branco had done the same with his fearsome left foot. The ‘keeper had parried the ball on both occasions. There had also been a header over on the near post from Careca after a left wing corner (he should have scored), and both Galvão and Rocha had failed to control the ball in positions inside the box. It seemed only a matter of time before the lead would be increased.
Brazilian tidal wave
Through to the halfway point in the second half, the home dominance is greater than at any stage during the first period. While Brazil have definitely upped the ante, the endless wave of attacks towards Baena’s goal are also a result of the visiting players tiring. Venezuela are completely unable to hold on to the ball, and though they had mounted a very rare attack on the hour, through Arreaza, it had been a one-man attempt which had easily and swiftly been dealt with by Ricardão, who had just picked the ball off the striker inside the area.
The Arreaza moment had just been a very brief respite for the visitors, who were severely under the cosh. How they did not find themselves further goals behind was due to a lack of precision from the hosts, either with the final delievery or with the finish. Careca had struck with venom from just outside the area on 58 minutes, an effort which had just cleared the bar, while Bebeto had twice failed to reach the target with attempts from inside the box. Dunga had shot straight at Baena from 20 yards, while Valdo had expertly worked himself into a shooting position from just outside the area, only to see his left-footed effort go just wide of the upright. It was opportunities galore, and the Venezuelans were barely hanging on, blessing their fortune so far in the final half.
The lack of second half goals must have begun to worry Lazaroni, and closing in on the halfway stage he decided to take Dunga off for Alemão. It would appear a like for like change, perhaps with a view to taking advantage of that undeniable link which existed on club level between the Napoli substitute and his team mate Careca. The latter seemed to be on fire, and Brazil’s number 9 was surely eyeing to complete his hat-trick before the end of the game. As it would turn out, though, Alemão did not come on in Dunga’s deeper role; he would rather be thrust into the inside left job, pushing Valdo back into where Dunga had previously featured. Not that it mattered an awful lot. It was purely one-way traffic anyway.
Let there be no doubt about the hosts’ enormous superiority, though describing each and every attack makes little sense. They run through the visitors’ midfield at will, and in making use of the pitch’ width, they time and again get into crossing positions, more from the right than from the left. The Brazilians also prove that it can be done to work their way through the centre, where the congestion of players is obviously greater. However, quick combinations and one-twos often see them succeed with such approaches, although again their failure in final moment precision denies them adding to their tally. Their discipline and workrate are second to none.
On 72 minutes, Venezuela have their sole effort on target all game. They’d won a free-kick halfway inside the home side’s half of the pitch after a Galvão foul on Maldonado, and when a headed clearance from Ricardão had been worked back, Cavallo had managed to pick Febles out with a first time pass to set the substitute up for a shooting chance 20 yards out. Connecting sweetly with a half volley, Febles looked to have struck it well, though ultimately Taffarel made his catch look simple.
Less than a minute after, it should’ve been five. Again. Alemão, whom one would’ve expected to link up with Careca, plays Bebeto through on goal with an exquisite pass through the Venezuelan defence, though a slightly poor first touch makes the striker have to rush his shot a little more than he had been expecting, and with Baena coming quickly off his line, the stopper was quickly down to his right to palm Bebeto’s left-footed effort. He had been playing superbly all afternoon, had the visitors’ ‘keeper. In fact, despite shipping eleven goals from less than three matches, Baena had performed impeccably, saving many a certain goal.
Second Brazil substitution
Still without a second half goal, something which was almost beginning to resemble a miracle by this point, Lazaroni makes his final throw of the dice as he unleashes attacking player Tita, his second and final substitute, taking Valdo off. The latter had gone into a somewhat more defensive role with Alemão on, though a holding midfielder was hardly demanded of the hosts on this occasion, and so it did make sense in replacing Valdo with Tita. The latter, who had done well in two recent seasons in Europe, with Bayer Leverkusen and Pescara respectively, was now in his home city. However, the Carioca, who had begun his career at Flamengo, was now a Vasco da Gama player, where he was a team mate of Bebeto’s. Like was the case with Alemão, this was also Tita’s first appearance of the qualification. Tita had recovered following a nasty head injury which he’d picked up in the previous month’s Japan friendly.
After their latest substitution, the appearance of the Brazilian midfield three has altered somewhat. While Valdo had slotted into the central among the three roles in the wake of Dunga’s departure, it would now appear that Alemão had taken over in the middle, working just behind the other two, with both Silas (right) and Tita in predominantly attacking roles. The home side now had a forward arsenal of some potential, though for all their dominance and opportunities created, they had still not been able to breach Baena since the start of the period.
While Venezuela probably could consider themselves lucky that some of Brazil’s efforts had not been well enough executed, they had continued to defend doggedly. It must have been disspiriting seeing how the ball would always come back deep into their half, almost like a boomerang, though one should also take into consideration that they must have been used to these backs against the walls exercises. And in Baena, they had a goalkeeper who could live with the best, even when his team mates couldn’t. He’d showed his leap when he’d caught a high cross from Jorginho on 74 minutes. It had been a catch worthy of someone nicknamed ‘the cat’ (not that I know whether Baena actually was).
After another couple of efforts from around the edges of the 18 yard area, with Tita and Careca giving it a go respectively, the first shooting straight into the arms of the expecting custodian, whilst Careca’s low diagonal effort crept just wide, it is time for Moreno to bring on his second substitute, too. While Arreaza had never stopped chasing up front, he had mostly been isolated, and little luck had come his way, although it is fair to say that the conditions under which he had been working had rarely offered him the benefit of the doubt. Having run himself into the ground, he would be replaced by the tall, curly-haired Martín Tarazona on 77 minutes.
Adding another goal
It would’ve defied some laws of nature had Brazil not increased their lead for all their chances created and sheer dominance. On 79 minutes it is finally time, and once again it is Careca who is on the end of it, sidefooting home a low Jorginho cross from the right, with Rivas unable to get near enough to block. He’s looked truly inspired on this occasion, has the Italy based ace, and moments earlier he had collaborated elegantly with his friend Alemão, setting up a shooting opportunity for the latter. It had gone well wide, though. Even Branco had given his favourite foot air time since the last player entrance, so the barrage seemed never-ending. Careca’s hat-trick was just reward for Brazilian relentlessness. The goal was their 30th (!) effort of the afternoon.
Waves of attack continue – and 6-0
The hosts show no mercy against their visitors, and having scored a fifth, they immediately set their sight for number six. This despite boasting a fine goal difference compared to Chile, even before the latter’s home game against the Venezuelans. Brazil now have scored ten and let in just the one last week in Santiago. The Chileans have 4-2 from their first two matches, and should this scoreline stand, Brazil’s group rivals would need to score seven to better them, and thus only need a draw in Rio de Janeiro on the final weekend of qualification.
Both the Brazilian substitutes contribute well. Alemão clearly wishes to impress, and he shows a lovely burst of pace along the right handed channel, setting up an opportunity for Tita in the centre, though off balance, the latter fails to hit the target. This had been a minute after Tita had also been worked into a favourable position for an effort at goal from Bebeto’s back heel to the left inside the area, only for Carrero to desperately throw himself in front of the shot and block it away for a left wing corner. There’s also more work for the Venezuelan defensive left hand side, when both Silas and Careca attack through the channels. The pressure is just non-stop. The Brazilians’ desire to increase their goal difference is admirable.
6-0 arrives on 41 minutes. The Venezuelans are unable to defend themselves against such profligacy, and there’s a reoccurence of a first half multi-treat, with Branco appearing in the wide right position to assist Careca (right-footed!) for the simple tap-in at the far post from the high cross. The hosts had showed fine endeavour once again to recoup the ball inside the final third, with Alemão putting on a sprint to get to a cleared ball before it went out for a throw. In turn, he played it to Silas, who saw Branco’s run along the right. Poetry in motion. Four for Careca.
The game continues through to 91,38. There is to be no further goals, but yes, the hosts could have added to their tally, as the lively Tita was twice in the thick of the action inside the final few minutes. He looked to have made it past Acosta on his way towards the byline to the right inside the area, only to go down once the Venezuelan captain had laid his arm on top of him. There was no penalty claims, although Tita had looked beggingly in the direction of the referee. The Vasco man would then be set up for a powerful drive from 20 yards by Silas, only to sky his effort high over the bar. The same Silas, initially, had a low shot parried away for yet another flag kick right on 90 minutes.
Upon the full time whistle, one naturally felt empathetic towards the Venezuelans, who had given their all, but who had yet not been anywhere near their opponents. Often when a team is such a major favourite, it can be easy to let concentration levels dive, though Brazil deserve credit for not allowing this to happen here in São Paulo. If anything, the hosts should be disappointed that they only found the back of the net six times. It should still be good enough to only require a draw to go through to the World Cup when they tackle Chile in two weeks’ time.
Although the hosts seize the initiative right away, Brazil are not sparkling. Granted, they have a player who is a guarantist for goals in their ranks, and two perfectly headed efforts from Careca ensure they have an early 2-0 lead. They have been stating pre-match that their ambition is to rank up their goal difference before the group’s conclusive game with Chile due to visit Rio de Janeiro later, and perhaps has this made some players slightly stressed? They fail to convert from the spot as Valdo’s penalty is saved well by Baena, but two quick-fire goals towards the end of the half brings a healthy advantage before the final 45 minutes.
Venezuela have nothing in their locker. They can just sit back and take punch after punch. Brazil turn the screw from early in the second half, and their utter dominance sees them create a huge number of opportunities. Baena comes to the visitors’ rescue time and again. Incredibly, there’s nearly 40 goal attempts by the end of the game, when the hosts have also added another brace by Careca, making him four-goal scorer in the process. The win could so easily have been bigger.
1 Taffarel 6.8
a mere spectator throughout, apart from making a comfortable save from Febles’ shot
2 Jorginho 7.4
appeared as a right wing player, and got into so many crossing positions. Assisted for the fifth goal, and had a few pops at target himself
3 Ricardo Rocha 7.4
pleasing on the eye in how he treats the ball, and well capable of advancing past a player or two. Assured in his positional game, and also in the air
4 Mauro Galvão 7.1
a couple of strong tackles against Maldonado, though was very sparingly given the chance to display his defensive qualities. Just came forward on a couple of occasions
5 Branco 7.7
a totally impressive performance in which he would appear in a right wing position on so many occasions it was far from a coincidence. Assisted Careca for goal number six from there, with his right foot. Even tested his shooting boot several times
6 Ricardo Gomes 7.2
almost got caught by Arreaza a couple of times, but his class ultimately saved him. Didn’t always look so inspired against lowly opponents, but again showed how he is capable of coming forward to some effect
7 Bebeto 7.1
did a lot of the ‘dirty’ work in the channels, but seemed to work well with Careca. Disappointingly inefficient when given the chance
8 Dunga 7.2
kept the team tick in midfield; always available, and would put Maldonado under pressure every time. Became surplus to requirements in Brazil’s search for further goals
(14 Alemão –
a very inspired cameo. Unlucky not to be credited with an assist as Bebeto failed one on one with Baena. Passed, chased, got to loose balls. Had a lot of hunger)
9 Careca 8.8
a stunning performance, and not just for his four goals. Could well have added to that tally. Enjoyed being brought into play, held the ball up, played team mates in, and just thoroughly enjoyed himself now he’s back fit again
10 Silas 8.0
the more space he had, the greater his influence. Fine shot for the third goal. Assisted for the fourth. Revelled in the attacking midfield role
11 Valdo 7.4
part of a midfield which grew prolific, and was both creator and finisher, even if he didn’t get his name on the scoresheet. Assisted for 2-0. Missed the penalty which he’d won. A bit deeper in the few minutes he got after Dunga departed
(15 Tita –
in the thick of the action after coming on, and linked up well with his team mates, even if he couldn’t get his name on the scoresheet despite attempts)
1 Baena 7.5
extremely alert in coming off his line. Foiled Bebeto, saved Valdo’s penalty. Leapt well to catch the ball, and was never at fault for either goal. Very competent performance
2 Torres 6.1
looked after Bebeto with reasonable first half success, and then played at right-back during the final 45. Could not prevent Branco from getting into crossing positions
3 Paz 5.7
failed in his task to prevent Careca, who simply had too much for the man-marker
4 Acosta 6.5
with the Venezuelan defensive line so deep, he was hardly able to sweep. His fine footballing brain saved him on a few occasions, though he’d kick himself for conceding the own goal
5 Pacheco 6.0
right-back first half, left-back after the break. Could not prevent crosses from either side, and had little to contribute with coming forward
6 Cavallo 5.9
unenviable role as the midfield anchor man; totally overrun throughout. The visitors’ midfield was shockingly transparent
7 Arreaza 6.4
plenty of commitment and endeavour, but more or less single-handedly up front the longer the game went, and could not perform miracles from his wide forward role)
(15 Tarazona –
could not make his mark on the game; became something inbetween a midfielder and a forward. Decent physique)
8 Carrero 6.1
the supposed midfield playmaker was hardly ever on the ball, though at least he offered some defensive commitment. Remembered for a fine second half block on Tita
9 Gallardo 5.6
replaced at half-time after a very unremarkable 45 minutes in which he succeeded in next to nothing. Could not utilize his pace, and did not contribute in pressuring
(16 Febles 6.2
a more robust player who would feature in midfield much due to the team’s defensive nature. Had Venezuela’s solitary strike on target)
10 Maldonado 6.2
never had a moment’s peace when in possession, though capable of dribbling a couple of men, even if it never led to anything. Clumsily gave away first half pen
11 Rivas 6.4
more sound at centre-half in the second period than at left-back before the break. Not enough pace to cope with opponents, but physique saved him a couple of times