Analysis by Andy Roxburgh
I watched Brazil train on Monday night and Carlos Alberto Parreira worked them for nearly an hour and a half and it was clear he was preparing them specifically for what they would face in this game. He did a lot of work on how to defend, particularly in how to deal with crosses and set-plays and that was important because Juan Riquelme does come up with some brilliant deliveries and also how to break out quickly.
Significantly the coach also altered his formation. Previously Brazil had been using a two-man screen in midfield with Ronaldinho and Kaka stationed behind the front two but for this game he turned it into more of a diamond formation with Ronaldinho at the front end and Emerson at the base.
Kaka was on the right but much more advanced than you normally see from a player in that position so you could almost say the formation was a distorted diamond. It also meant that instead of having two players to mark as normal, Argentina's defensive screen had just one Ronaldinho.
Against a three-man back line, Adriano and Robinho were often found drifting wide, stretching their markers. That enabled Ronaldinho and Kaka to run straight at the heart of the Argentina defence because the movement of the strikers had opened them up.
We always say that a team needs to have power, pace and craft and if you can combine those three things then you have a real threat indeed. Brazil had a combination of individual inventiveness and collective flair. It was hard for Argentina because at different periods in the game they played very well. To come back after losing two goals in the first 20 minutes, especially when they were such wonderful goals, was a tough hill for them to climb.
They showed a great attitude in their response and then before they had settled down at the start of the second half they lost another goal. When Pablo Aimar came on they gave it a real go but in the end his goal only proved to be a token. Argentina were showing a lot of brilliant combination play in the central areas but Brazil caught them numerous times on the counterattack.
The final thought, with next year's FIFA World Cup in mind, is that these teams are going to be two of the top contenders. They proved again that they are not only great entertainers but very effective at the same time.