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London 2012: Egypt 2-3 Brazil – Pharaohs impressive in defeat to Brazil
Egypt 2-3 Brazil
Match: Egypt (Abou-Treika, 52, Mohamed Salah, 76) 2 – Brazil 3 (Rafael, 16, Leandro Damiao, 26, Neymar, 30)
Competition: London 2012 Olympics – Group C
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (Italy)
It was inevitable. Lingering memories from that ever exciting Confederations Cup game between Egypt and Brazil in 2009 came hurtling back quickly when Abou-Treika slotted in that elusive first goal past Neto in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. Mind you, the Selecao went on to win both games – marginally. With almost 20,000 fans watching, Egypt kicked off their 20 year return to the Olympics with a 3-2 defeat to a star studded Brazilian team managed by Mano Menezes in the opening game of Group C in the London 2012 Olympics. In a tale of two halves, the Mano Menezes’s men ran riot in the first half, scoring three goals in 30 minutes, while the Pharaohs almost made a heroic comeback in the second half, pulling back two goals and clearly outplaying a Brazilian side that’s not lacking any panache or flair. Let’s take a look at how both sides fared as the match progressed in King Fut’s recap of yesterday’s exciting game.
Hany Ramzy, Egypt’s manager deployed a 4-3-1-2 formation with a speculative starting line-up. Egypt’s star goalkeeper Ahmed El Shennawy took up his place in goal while the two CBs in Fiorentina’s Ahmed Hegazy and Mahmoud Alaa played in front of him. Reported Arsenal target Islam ‘Milo’ Ramadan and senior player Ahmed Fathi took up the LB and RB positions respectively. A midfield trio of Mohamed El Nenny, Hossam Hassan and Saleh Gomaa were picked. Leading the front lines, the maestro Abou Treika, Marawan Mohsen and Metab took the honors. It has to be noted that Mohamed Salah, FC Basel’s newest acquisition and one of Egypt’s best players was left out from the starting line-up. Word floating around was that FC Basel’s medical team demanded that he only play 45 minutes after returning from a shoulder injury. Shehab Ahmed, Al Ahly’s influential midfielder, was also left out.
Not short of star players, Mano Menezes opted for a flexible 4-2-1-3 formation, with Neto in goal, with a back four of Thiago Silva, Juan, United’s Rafael Da Silva and Madrid’s Marcelo. Two holding midfielders played in Sandro and Romulo while a fearsome quartet played upfront mixing Oscar, Hulk, Neymar and striker Leandro Damiao. Lucas Moura and Ganso were both left of the bench.
The first half kicked off slightly in favor of the Egyptian team, as Mohamed El Nenny forced a save from Neto in the opening 3 minutes of the game. The first 15 minutes witnessed quick, scintilating football from both sides. Egypt’s very own Nesta of the Pyramids, Ahmed Hegazy was a rock at the back while Hulk was ever so dangerous.
It all turned downhill from the 16th minute mark for the Egyptian team as Brazil scored 3 goals in 15 minutes to make it 3-0 just below the 30th minute mark. The first goal in the 16th minute came courtesy of Manchester United’s Rafael. Oscar slipped in a neat through pass to Rafael, who controlled it with his right foot, then shot in low with his left past El Shennawy. Ten minutes later Oscar utilized a mistake by Egypt’s GK El Shennawy when the ball was lofted in long from the midfield. El Shennawy was slow to come out and clear the ball, leaving the way for Oscar who took it past him, laid it back to Leandro Damiao who made no mistake it slotting it in. 4 minutes after that, it was Neymar’s turn to score. Neymar played a beautiful through pass to Hulk that cut the Egyptian defense, then crossed it back again for Neymar to head it in past the hapless Shennawy.
Egypt finished the game on a slight high after Abou Treika shot just wide from a free kick. 3-0 at half time with Brazil just too strong for an Egyptian side that seemed to have been affected by confidence and school boy defending.
With Egypt succumbing to a 3-0 defeat in the first half, Hany Ramzy made his first substitution with Mohamed Salah coming on for Marawan Mohsen. Egypt’s first goal came in the 52nd minute with Salah making his first contribution to the game after winning a free kick on the right. Islam Ramadan played in the free kick that fell for Fathi, who headed it back in for Metab, who struck the post. The ball returned to Abou Treika who slotted it in scoring Egypt’s first.
With Egypt looking the livelier in the second half, Mohamed Salah squandered a golden chance as he went one on one with the keeper, but was too slow to finish it off as the Brazilian defenders cleared. Egypt wasted another chance as Salah and Abou Treika combined, only for Treika to thread a through ball just a tad bit too long for Salah.
Salah was on hand to score Egypt’s second in the 76th minute after a small bustle in the 18 yard box. Salah picked up the ball just on the edge of the box, turned and twisted, then beautifully curled the ball with his left foot past Neto.
With the comeback of 2009 reminiscent, Brazil managed to hold on to a tight victory as the game ended by 3 goals to 2 for The Selecao.
Much was said about Egypt’s starting line-up, and rightly so. Hany Ramzy opted for a more conservative starting eleven, leaving the effective Mohamed Salah and Shehab, a strong sturdy midfielder, on the bench. This was quite evident in the second half when the introduction of these two made quite a difference as the Pharaohs continually threatened. With the shoulder injury out of the way, Salah is expected to start in the upcoming game versus New Zealand.
As Brazil attacked continually in the first half, Egypt was left exposed with some school boy defending. This was apparent in Neymar’s third for Brazil. The depth of the defense line was clearly exposed as 5 defenders quickly closed in on Neymar, leaving both Oscar and Hulk in open positions. The ball was then threaded to Hulk as the defense line re-grouped.
This could easily be solved by using Ahmed Hegazy in a more centralized, deeper role. Hegazy has tremendous awareness and anticipation levels, coupled with a strong physique. When playing a deep line, he’ll have a chance to cut off all those through passes.
It has to be noted that Ahmed Fathi, one of the three senior players in the Egyptian squad, played a brilliant defensive game, holding off both Neymar and Hulk at times.
King Fut’s Man of the Match:
Whether it was Ahmed Hegazy with his solid performance at the back, Fathi for his role in nullifying Hulk and Neymar to an extent or Mohamed Salah for providing that spark that was ever so needed, King Fut’s Man of the Match is certainly Brazil’s Oscar. Chelsea’s new midfielder was a constant threat, consistent in the midfield and provided in two assists. There’s certainly more to come from him.