Chicharito hardly sees the ball in Mexico's 0-2 defeat by Brazil

Miguel Tovar

Chicharito's 17 touches on the ball were the least amount for any starter in the match. The Manchester United striker was starved of service.

The two most intriguing things about Mexico's opening Confederations Cup match versus Italy was, at least from a Javier Hernandez (Chicharito) perspective, was his cameo role as a No.10 (and his man-marking of Andrea Pirlo) and also him scoring another international goal. In today's match versus Brazil, there wasn't much that was interesting in regards to the Manchester United striker because he hardly ever saw the ball. In fact, his 17 touches on the ball were the least of any starting player in the match.

If one digs deep looking for a Chicharito talking point from the game, it's probably that he continues to display a bit more variation in his movement up front. When the Mexico international first arrived at Old Trafford, his movement as a No.9 was generally north-and-south (mostly north) as he looked to run the channels and get in behind the opposition's center-backs so that he could receive through-balls and crosses near goal. In the past year or two though, and in the 0-2 defeat by Brazil, he often moved wide in the space behind Brazil full-backs Dani Alves and Marcelo looking to escape the attentions of center-backs Thiago Silva and David Luiz while he also dropped deep at times in order to hold the ball up and bring his fellow attackers into play. The striker now receives the ball to feet and with his back to goal much more than he used to rather than just always running into space to fetch it. His three fouls won today in the attacking third was largely the product of this.

Defensively, one of Chicharito's strengths is ability to lead his side's pressing from the front. His searing pace and energy is very valuable for this. However, in each of Mexico's two Confederations Cup contests, his side have stood off the opposition's center-backs and instead, the United striker, when in the No.9 role, has been asked to try and prevent easy passes into midfield. Chicharito generally did this job well as Brazil's double-pivot of Paulinho and Luiz Gustavo had less touches on the ball than full-backs Dani Alves and Marcelo and also less than the attacking (and unplayable) Neymar. This hints that the easy outlets from the back were out wide to the full-backs or long-balls into attack*.

* Brazil could really use a ball-playing deep-lying central-midfielder rather than just deploy a ball-winner and an energetic runner in Luiz Gustavo and Paulinho. With neither Hulk nor Neymar tracking back much, though, and with marauding Dani Alves and Marcelo as full-backs, I suppose I see why Luiz Felipe Scolari might want his double-pivot to be defense-minded.

Overall, there isn't much to report on from Chicharito's uneventful match versus Brazil. He went the full 90 minutes and he only attempted one shot (which wasn't on target). Mexico's match versus Japan and Shinji Kagawa on Saturday will be their last in the Confederations Cup if Italy earns a result in today's later Italy versus Japan match.

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