Red hot Brazil came out with their strongest lineup, barring the suspended Dani Alves. The hosts were looking to cement their top spot among the Conmebol standings. The Brazilians are a completely different side since Tite took over and this game was no different than the previous matches under Tite, the Brazilians were full of energy and had Paraguay on the ropes right from the start.
Neymar was often the protagonist driving the team forward. Paraguay eventually settled and implemented an aggressive game plan, fouling Neymar at every opportunity. The Paraguayans had chances gifted to them through poor passes out of the back, but the quick Derlis González couldn't capitalize. In the 34th minute, Coutinho worked his magic and polished his way through the Paraguayan defense with a brilliant one-two with Paulinho, before slotting the ball into the bottom corner from outside the box. As Ray Hudson noted, it was a truly Brazilian goal.
The 2nd half started with Brazil attacking with blistering pace. They created a number of chances within the first 5 minutes. In the 50th minute, Neymar drove into the penalty box taking on two players before the Rojas took him down. Replays show that Rojas got the ball, but in live time it did look like a penalty. Neymar stepped up and took a very poor penalty which was saved by Paraguay’s Anthony Silva. But Neymar wouldn't be stopped.
10 minutes later, he went on a solo run burning his fullback, a la Gareth Bale, before curling the ball around the keeper into the side netting. Brazil took a comfortable 2-0 lead.
Neymar then struck again around the 70th minute with an easy finish, which was disallowed due to a rightly called offside. From there, the game was a walk in the park for the Brazilians, as Paraguay never threatened the opposing net. The flick and tricks were ever present as the game entered the final stages. Brazil put the game to bed in the 85th minute, after some quick link up play between Coutinho, Paulinho, and Marcelo, with the left back producing a cheeky chip to score Brazil’s 3rd of the night. Marcelo and Casemiro were both solid, playing the full 90 minutes and fortunately for Madrid fans, there were no injuries to report on either player.
Marcelo linked up brilliantly on the left-wing with Neymar all evening. No matter the pressure Paraguay tried to instill on the duo, they both found each other with quick one-two's. Marcelo playing as Marcelo does, was high up the pitch, more often playing as a left-winger and the outlet for Brazil when they looked to switch the field. Wagner, on the right side of the defense for Brazil, was much more subdued in his attacking runs.
Marcelo had a few moments where he was caught out of position with no cover after a few of his own errand passes. This allowed Paraguay to break and caused the Brazilian crowd to become frustrated. Marcelo’s perfect chip for the 3rd goal eclipsed what he lacked in the final pass tonight, as he sealed the game for Brazil. Overall, it was a good shift for the left back, helping his side keep a clean sheet and providing a threat down the left at every opportunity.
Casemiro has established himself as a favorite for Tite. Playing the same role as he does for Madrid; the anchor and the stability to an attack-minded team. Typical of Casemiro, he had some beautifully timed sliding tackles and crucial interceptions within the match. The play from midfield is dictated completely by Augusto and Paulinho with Neymar and Coutinho also dropping deep to receive the ball and connect. Casemiro is often bypassed in this system, but the passes he did play were precise and simple. Brazil’s dominance meant that Casemiro was not needed as much on the defensive end, limiting his influence on the game. The midfielder did everything he had to do well and kept the Paraguayans off the score-sheet.