In its first match at a major competition, and one of their first outside of Africa, Cameroon gave up two goals on set pieces in the first 10 minutes against Brazil, and appeared to be ready to be on the end of a hiding. But the Indomitable Lionesses (have to use that as much as possible in the next couple of weeks) settled down and held Brazil at bay for the next 65 minutes. And then gave up three more in the last 15. But they can keep their heads up, and with a break or two, might give Great Britain or New Zealand some trouble. As for Brazil? We’re still guessing.
1) Still tough to read Brazil’s formation, but the back still might be shaky
They were calling it a 3-5-2 on the broadcast, but it almost looked like one of those Spain 4-6-0 formations, with Marta occasionally leading the line and sometimes coming back deeper to get the ball. Sometimes Erika and Renata Costa were center backs, sometimes one went forward. Maurine kind of played a left back, but sometimes a left wing getting into the attack. Bottom line: it’s not worth trying to figure out what Brazil is going to do. We do know that Daiane – last year’s sweeper – barely played at all, not coming on until a bizarre stoppage time sub. So who knows? I’ll try again next game.
2) Cameroon was actually more organized …. until they got tired
The last two goals (the only ones Brazil scored in the run of play) both started in the Brazil end and were basically delayed counters. You saw some inexperience. Well, you saw a lot of inexperience, but Cameroon was able to push into the Brazil half at times, got themselves seven corner kicks, although very few meaningful chances on goal. Madeleine Ngono Mani had a little help from Ajara Nchout and Gabrielle Onguene, as Cameroon did not bunker at all in this match, but Brazil just had far more quality, as you’d expect.
3) While tough to figure, Brazil is still dangerous
It took until the end, but when you see Marta on the ball with time to look around, you’re in trouble. And with Christiane or Francielle or whomever, the more Brazil plays in this tournament, the more they’ll be on the same page, and the more dangerous they’ll be. We’ll see in the back, it took a while to be exposed at the World Cup, too, but I don’t expect them to have many problems in this group from what I saw today.