A goal in added time by defender Miranda from a Neymar corner kick gave Brazil a 1-0 win over Argentina in an uninspired “friendly” match in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The assist by Neymar brought his combined total for goals and assists for Brazil to 100 in just 94 appearances.
The win means that Brazil regains the “Superclásico de las Américas” from Argentina. It is Brazil’s fourth win in five editions of the competition that started in 2011. The competition was supposed to be held annually between the two countries but there was no game in 2013 or 2015. Argentina’s only win was last year in Melbourne, Australia.
Both Brazil and Argentina easily won warm-up matches against Saudi Arabia (2-0) and Iraq (4-0) before this Superclásico. However, the game played on Wednesday at the stadium nicknamed the Jewel, part of King Abdullah Sports City, was no classic, let alone super.
There were seven yellow cards given out (5 to Argentina) but even so the game lacked the degree of intensity we might have expected from a match between such bitter rivals.
Brazil dominated possession (63/37) and although both teams did a decent job of maintaining possession rarely did possession translate into incisive passing in and around the penalty areas.
— OptaJavier (@OptaJavier) October 16, 2018
Neymar was the only player who offered a consistent attacking threat although it was center back Miranda who had two of the four shots that actually hit the intended target.
In the first half, the Inter defender had a shot cleared off the line by Nicolás Otamendi after his shot had beaten Argentina goalkeeper, Sergio Romero.
Miranda’s other effort came three minutes into added time and it provided the only goal of the game. Neymar’s corner kick from the left side found Miranda totally unmarked at the near post and only a couple of yards from the goal. The only thing Miranda had to do was to make sure that his header was on target.
GOOOL DE MIRANDA!
Assist Neymar. Brazil beat Argentina 1-0. pic.twitter.com/3lCszuUXeJ
— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) October 16, 2018
It was ironic that such loose marking and poor organization cost Argentina the game as up to that point the defense had been a bright spot in a poor overall performance.
With a change of the guard underway (no Messi, Mascherano, or Di Maria) there was an opportunity for others to step up. But it did not happen.
In particular, Paulo Dybala failed to influence the match in any positive way while striker Mauro Icardi was starved of support and service.
Right-back Renzo Saravia was one of Argentina’s best players despite being in direct opposition to Neymar. Saravia only made his full international debut last month.
— Belgrano – English (@Belgrano_en) October 16, 2018
The next Copa America will be hosted next June/July in Brazil and the hosts will be far more confident of success than an Argentina side short of self-belief and inspiration.
Neymar stats and facts
With 94 caps, Neymar has joined the great Brazil goalkeeper Gilmar as the 10th most capped player in Brazil’s history. Ronaldinho (97), Ronaldo and Djalma Santos (98) are all within touching distance.
Pele represented Brazil 92 times.
Cafu (142 caps) holds the record for most appearances for Brazil. Considering Neymar doesn’t turn 27 until next February and that he has averaged more than 11 appearances for Brazil in the last eight years, he has a great chance to overtake Cafu’s record haul.
Neymar’s 59 goals for Brazil trails Ronaldo’s 62 and Pele’s Brazil record of 77. Based on goals per game, Pele is way out in front (0.83), just ahead of Ademir (0.82).
Romario averaged 0.78, Zico 0.67 and Ronaldo 0.63 goals per game.
Neymar’s goals and assists, club and country
|Team||Games||Goals||Assists||G + A||Goal Avg.||Asst. Avg.||G+A Avg|
Neymar Jr for Brazil
100 goal involvements in 94 matches. pic.twitter.com/3C2G9LHTwl
— Brazil Football(@BrazilEdition) October 16, 2018