Play by play

FT: Brazil 0-0 Mexico. Well, folks. That 0-0 draw is the answer to the critics who hate soccer because it’s boring and ties because they’re un-American. A fantastic spectacle for the neutral and fans from both nations. Brazil should be disappointed considering they’re the hosts and have superior talent. Mexico should be pleased. They had their chances, especially late, but Sir William Ochoa, the undisputed Man of the Match, saved them time and time again. Brazil remains in pole position to win the group if they beat Cameroon and Mexico is poised to finish second if they can muster a draw or better against Croatia. But let’s not end without a shout to the sexy beast that’s put Mexico on the brink of the knockout stage. Mike Herrera, we salute you! “Wait, what’s that? Did Mike Herrera just wink at me?”

REWIND: Marcelo was definitely obstructed, but his delay in going down, combined with looking straight for the ref, told the real story.

REWIND: Thiago Silva’s header is right at Ochoa.

Let’s check in with the fans. There’s a contrast.

SIX-FINGERED SAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mexico stupidly conceded a free-kick in the corner and Thiago Silva nearly makes them pay. However, his  powerful, close-range header is right at Sir William Ochoa. I’ll bet the FA finds it in their hearts to grant him a transfer to England now.

REWIND: Yellow card. Believe it.

Say goodbye to Gio Dos Santos. Not forever. No, he’s not injured. No, he hasn’t been sent off. He’s just coming off. Same with Oscar. It’s #WillianTime.

Yellow card for Thiago Silva. Dos Santos passes to Chicharito at the top of the box and his deft turn is very swiftly OBLITERATED by the center-back. Undoubtedly yellow.

Bernard plays Jo through nicely, but he pulls the left-footed shot well wide.

REWIND: Cross. Chest. Shot. Save.

REWIND: “Enough jibber jabber. Talk to the hand, Andres.”

NEYMAR NEARLY SCORES!!! SIR WILLIAM OCHOA (ONCE AGAIN) SAVES THE DAY. There is going to be a popular children’s book series about Ochoa at this rate.

Jo is on for Fred. It’s an international game.

REWIND: Neymar almost saves Brazil from Armageddon, but he is not Bruce Willis. He is but a simple pony. 

REWIND: “Do the Big Mike….Do the Big Mike…Do the Big Mike.”

REWIND: Big Phil is cranky. First, he lost his keys. THEN, HE LOST HIS WALLET. THEN, THE REFEREE SHOWED A YELLOW CARD!!! It ain’t easy being Big Phil.

JJ Vazquez goes in the book as well. Neymar and Dani Alves line up the free-kick from 30 yards.

Aguilar hacks down Bernard from behind. We’ve seen worse, but Mexico committed plenty of fouls early on, so it was likely an accumulation thing. You know, when the ref holds up three fingers for a player and then counts 1-2-3? In this case, it was more like 1-2-3-4-5-6-7…you get the idea.

Yet another chance for El Tri!!! Peralta cuts back onto his left foot and shoots just high. Brazil is lucky that FIFA rejected the measure that would’ve increased goal height from 8 feet to 9 feet.

JJ Vasquez shoots just high. The slo-mo replay dissolves into a guy in a luchador mask because that’s the only way to make sense of this spectacle. Masks hide the truth within. Spend a rainy day with that one.

Meanwhile, on the Internet…

REWIND: Rodriguez saves El Tri with a crucial header.

REWIND: Thiago Silva inadvertently stomps on Marquez. “Hey, man! We’re wearing the same shoes!”

Dani Alves plays a gorgeous long ball over the top. Bernard, fresh off the bench, centers for Neymar, but El Tri’s defense clears the danger.

We’re back with the 2nd half. 

It turns out the English FA is on #TeamInigo as well. In 2010, Ochoa attempted to transfer to Fulham. However, the FA blocked the move, citing the “illegal” extra finger. This season, Liverpool was rumored to be after him as well. It’s not clear whether the FA has become more progressive in its stance on extra appendages.

Now, you might say, “Why take the extra appendage out on Ochoa? He can’t help it.” We don’t know that, so I’ll focus on what I do know: The Princess Bride. I have always been, and forever will be, on #TeamInigo, so forgive me for not being able to overlook this:


HT: Brazil 0-0 Mexico. That’s about the most exciting 0-0 half of soccer you’ll see. It was physical, but produced only one card. It was attacking, but produced no goals. It was dramatic, but produced no Academy Awards. *sigh* So, for your halftime entertainment, let’s talk about the real scandal. Performance-enhancing drugs have ravaged the sports world and yet Guillermo (aka Sir William) Ochoa has been waltzing around the soccer world with an extra finger.

REWIND: Memo Ochoa once again saves Mexico and the Spanish-speaking world:

REWIND: Vazquez shot bends just wide of the post.

Ramires barges over Aguilar and earns the game’s first yellow. Moments earlier, Thiago Silva’s beautifully chested pass left Neymar one-one-one, but Willy–we’re gonna have to start calling him Sir William Ochoa–produced another fine save.

Marquez feeds José Juan Vazquez whose bizarrely struck shot bends away from Julio Cesar and just wide of the post.

SLO-MO REWIND: Neymar nearly sends Rafa Marquez into retirement.

Fred heads tamely at Ochoa. Possession is now in Brazil’s favor 57/43, if you’re keeping score at home.

REWIND: Neymar, target forward for Barcelona, nearly gives Brazil the lead. However, Willy Ochoa foils his plot. Goal-line technology confirmed the ball was on, but not over, the line. Thanks, Al Gore.

REWIND: Marcelo exits stage left. Or right. We’re not thespians.

REWIND: Hector Mike Herrera (no relation to Mike Herrera) has his shot tipped just over.


*slow clap for us*

REWIND: Neymar is the enemy of the cameraman. Also opposing players. Some nifty footwork here from Neymar. Moments later he was fouled. Big Phil is livid that the referee is keeping his cards in his pockets.

Marcelo is having his way on the left-wing. Speaking of wings…

REWIND: Foul number 27 of 43. Aguilar takes down Oscar. The ref has yet to prove to anyone that he, in fact, has a yellow card in his possession.

Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant searches for his seat. If only the sections, rows, and numbers were in English.

Kobe Bryant, uma das lendas da NBA, aqui no jogo do Brasil!!!#vamospracima

A photo posted by Benjamin Back (@benjaminbackoficial) on

Dani Alves, gray hair and all, is lucky to avoid yellow. The right-back is very late on Andrés Guardado, but the referee is merciful–probably because he’s patient with senior citizens.

REWIND: Luiz Gustavo is fouled and is *so* committed to the roll that he nearly steamrolls the referee.

Neymar wins a free-kick in the attacking half, but Brazil turn the ball over. To help you visualize Neymar’s new hairdo, our Chief Prison Break Correspondent offers this:

There’s great energy to this match in the early minutes. Bodies are flying and flopping all over the place. Possession is ethereal. Yellow is everywhere in the crowd. It’s like a home match for Brazil. Mexico looks good, but not all of their fans are confident.

REWIND: Big Phil and No-Neck Mike chat before the match. “You use chili pepper in your mole recipe? Well, I respect you. Good luck, sir.”

REWIND: You know what they say about a man who sings hard…

GAME ON! And Neymar, who’s sporting a throw-back “My Little Pony” hairdo, is immediately fouled.

Welcome to Fortaleza! No, Dani Alves did not age 10 years in five days. It’s just a new style…women like older men, right?

Welcome to Fortaleza and the Arena Castelão!

The teams are walking out of the tunnel. “Come on ride the train, hey ride it!” #ChooChoo

And then get your Mexico on with a little spice from Rodrigo y Gabriela. Mmm…espicey!

National anthems. Wes Anderson is not Brazilian, but he enlisted Seu Jorge to cover David Bowie songs for The Life Aquatic. You’ll likely enjoy this and rush out to a torrent near you to steal. Thief.

Here’s the skinny on Brazil.

Big Phil makes only one change for Brazil. Chelsea bench regular Ramires replaces Hulk, who limping off in training. Brazil has won each of their first two matches of the group stage since 1982. This will clearly matter to this Seleção, most of which wasn’t born then. 

Here’s a one-minute refresher on El Tri.

Brazil and Mexico won their opening matches. The hosts dispatched Croatia 3-1, thanks to a Neymar brace and some dubious officiating. Mexico saw off Cameroon 1-0 in one of only two matches with fewer than three goals. #Analysis. Miguel Herrera will once again deploy a 5-3-2, the Ford Escort of formations, and is starting the same 11 players.

It’s the first second match of the group stage. How do I know? I’m paid to follow the World Cup. But I also know because Neymar has changed his hairstyle, which historically signals change.

Yes, the great Brazilian Hope is out to prove that blondes do have all the fun, especially given the fact that no blonde Mexican players.