Neymar had been cut off from the Brazilian squad for the World Cup Qualifiers this week because of a groin injury which he sustained playing for Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

Thomas Tuchel said last week that it would be impossible for Neymar to play for Brazil as he recovered from the injury, but Brazil coach Tite insisted that Neymar joins the squad, but Brazil team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said, Neymar’s recovery after four days off training was not enough.

Brazil had lost five players for the two matches, including injured midfielders Philippe Coutinho and Fabinho, and defender Rodrigo Caio. Defenders Eder Militao and Gabriel Menino were ruled out after contracting COVID-19.

The absence of players like Neymar and Coutinho would be felt, but, hey, we are talking about a team, that is habituated to produce performers and they play a very good role as the back-ups when the major players are absent.

Tite surfaced a team that had Roberto Firmino as number 9, Richarlison on the left, and Gabriel Jesus on the right-wing. Allan Douglas Luiz and Allan formed the 3-man midfield backed up by a 4-man backline: Danilo, Renan Lodi, Thiago Silva, and Marquinhos. Ederson featured instead of Alisson as the shot-stopper.

On paper, this team looked potent enough to test the opposition at Sao Paulo, and thus, Venezuelan manager, Jose Vítor dos Santos Peseiro decided to sit back deep and hamper the rhythm and attacking intent of the Selecao. And, when a team decides to do nothing but park the bus, it becomes very tough to break the defiant resistance.

Brazil had control over the game, but with the progress of time, the attempt to break the Venezuelan wall was becoming a tough task.

Brazil had cut a swath through the likes of Bolivia and Peru in the previous encounters, netting 9 times in the process, but Venezuela kept it really tight at the back, not allowing Brazil space to breathe.

With the opposition sitting deep and relying on low-block Brazil decided to orchestrate long passes and attack through the flanks.

An unmarked Jesus was unable to turn the ball towards goal just past the half-hour mark, instead scuffing an effort to Richarlison, who could only steer his close-range effort wide of the post.

Brazil had the ball in the back of the net again prior to half-time however Douglas Luiz’s effort was waived off for a foul on Venezuela goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez.

After a VAR review for handball was waived way nine minutes into the second half!

Brazil struggled in the midfield – apart from Rebeiro, the likes of Allan and Luiz were unable to orchestrate the creative play.

There was no need to explain in details, how Brazil missed the all-round brilliance of Neymar, who not only play his role as a forward but drops deeper to marshal the game from the midfield, whereas, the creative role of Coutinho was well and truly missed.

Allan was largely anonymous and his misplaced passes never helped while the team was build up to advance forward.

Luiz was the poorest link in the midfield – His passes were hopelessly miscued, while he also failed to track Jesus’ run at one point which could’ve created a good chance for him. As he was on a yellow by half time, Tite opted to sub him off at the break.

Rebeiro tried his best to overcome the low-block of Venezuela but failed until and unless he decided to operate from the flanks, at which he is well-equipped and finally his cross from the wide-right area was met by a poor defensive header from Osorio, allowing Roberto Firmino to tuck his awkward volley past Farinez from the close range.

It was a moment, which was needed to be grabbed and Bobby, until scoring the goal, struggled to impose himself in the match. He tested Farinez midway through the first half with a rasping shot and that was his only notable piece of the action in the match.

Brazil enjoyed 74% of possession and mustered just 3 shots on target, which does not do any justice to the names like Firmino, Jesus, and Richarlison. These players are well-renowned forwards and can cut through any defence, but at Sao Paulo, they found the going tough.

They need to rediscover their cutting-edge because the clash against Uruguay in Montevideo would be another test of patience and character without their talisman – Neymar!