- Jefferson Bernades/Shutterstock
- Soccer fans waiting for the Brazil national team to arrive for their training at Estadio Castelao one day before Brazil faces Mexico.
How could we not live-slog this? Favorites Brazil, the host nation, against the American team's eternal rival to the south, Mexico:
11 minutes: Brazil seems to be enjoying more of the possession so far... Oscar hits a cross in from the left with the outside of his boot, but Brazilian striker Fred can only tap it into the side-netting. 0-0.
17 mins: Intensely physical match, so far. It's never as enjoyable when the play is broken up by a foul every few minutes. Plus, we'll see less flair from the players. Neymar tries a pull back (my favorite move!) but a Mexican defender catches his foot. How the ref hasn't given a single yellow card yet is beyond me.
21 mins: Dani Alves is a stalwart on the right wing, isn't he? He's 31 years old but doesn't look a tiny bit slower than teammates five or ten years his junior.
24 mins: Mexico fire a shot in and it looks like it's going to hit the crossbar, but Julio Caesar acrobatically gets a hand up and tips it over anyway. And here come Mexico again...
26 mins: End-to-end stuff here. Brazil break and Dani Alves whips in a cross from the right side and their star Neymar heads it into the left corner. But Mexico's keeper produces a top-class save and palms it wide.
30 mins: The stands in Fortaleza are a sea of yellow (Brazil fans) interspersed with pockets of bright red (Mexico). But so far, Brazil don't look like they're firing on all cylinders. Unlike, say, Holland or Germany, they're not bossing the field.
32 mins: Neymar makes a lung-bursting run towards the box but is closed down by four (count 'em!) Mexican players. That's why he's a star player... but the ball bounces off someone's shin and sails harmlessly into the Mexican keeper's arms.
37 mins: Brazil need to slow down and play their game. Mexico come down the left side and Dani Alves puts in a meaty tackle. He mostly got the ball, but Mexico are given a dangerous free kick. Brazil clear and it falls to Marcelo outside the eighteen-yard box, who drags his shot wide.
40 mins: I'm at the Chieftain, by the way, where there's a decent crowd but nothing like packed house for the England-Italy game on the weekend. Perhaps the fans assume Brazil is going to put this match away.
42 mins: Mexico work the ball towards eighteen-yard line and Vazquez knocks the ball, slicing it, towards the lower right corner of the net. Julio Casar dives but the ball bounces inches wide.
44 mins: The Mexican goalkeeper has been immense. He comes out of the goal and makes himself big as a dangerous free kick flies into the box, and blocks David Luiz from poking the ball in from yards out.
Halftime! Here's the save of the tournament to date:
The passing sequence that led to Neymar's header/Ochoa's incredible save at 25' http://t.co/7E99F8sZWu pic.twitter.com/bAcqjESlYr
— NYT Sports (@NYTSports) June 17, 2014
56 mins: Mexico almost look the stronger team here. They're peppering Julio Casar with powerful shots and the Brazilian defense are remonstrating with one another. Both teams' keepers have been their best players so far. Still: 0-0.
61 mins: Second yellow card of the game, Brazil gearing up for a free kick from 25 yards out...
67 mins: Neymark curls it towards the upper-left corner, but it soars just wide.
What are Brazil doing, though? On this evidence, they're not one of the strongest teams in the tournament. Mexico are giving them a run for their money, mounting far more pressure on Brazil's goal. Could this be the slaying of another footballing giant (e.g. reigning champions Spain, who lost 4-0 to Holland in one of the tournament's first games)?
69 mins: Guillermo Ochoa, the frizzy-haired Mexican goalkeeper, pulls off another fine save from Neymar, who chests the ball down and half-volleys a shot in with his left. Ochoa has kept Mexico in this game so far and it's been amazing to watch...
72 mins: Finally, what we've all been waiting for: Brazil playing like they own the game. Mexico are pinned deep in their own half, and Brazil send some crosses in from both sides. But they can't get a header on the ball to send it goalwards.
75 mins: Jo receives a through ball but tries a first-time shot as the ball catches up with him. He scuffs it beyond the far post. Massive chance squandered for Brazil. Who would have thought Brazil/Mexico, of all the matches so far, would stay scoreless for so long?
79 mins: Chicarito came on a few minutes ago, prompting cheers from The Chieftain crowd! And he's in the thick of it, trying to receive the ball and spin towards goal before being hacked down by Giovani Dos Santos, who gets a yellow.
85 mins: Man of the match: Guillermo Ochoa. The Mexican keeper makes a stunning quick-reaction save to deny Brazil from point-blank range off a free kick drilled in from the left side by Neymar.
90 mins: What do we want? All the thrills and spills! And we're getting them. Once again, end to end play... with Mexico knocking two consecutive shots towards Julio Caesar's goal. One of them was barely above the crossbar... if Mexico can steer it into the net, this will be a huge upset. And the pro-Mexico folks here at The Chieftain will go berserk.
Fulltime: The three minutes of stoppage time fly by... and the Brazilian players look stunned. Guillermo Ochoa
's name will live in infamy is the fucking man. Final score: 0-0.
LE SAUVEUR #OCHOA pic.twitter.com/hJgpmkvrP8
— iTELE Mundial (@itelefoot) June 17, 2014
The Mexican goalie #BrazilvsMexico pic.twitter.com/FHYsRl7qEm
— Darth Vader (@DepressedDarth) June 17, 2014
Well, that was a brilliant finish to a frustrating match. Until next time, Sloccer fans (Slog + soccer... heyyy). Don't forget it: Hate FIFA, love the game.