Again, New Zealand huffed and puffed, but again they couldn’t knock the door down to get a result against a world power at a major competition. It was pretty cruel on poor New Zealand, too, who marginalized Marta and frustrated Brazil, only to give up a goal five minutes from the end that was really unlucky and unnecessary from a New Zealand perspective. On the plus side, a win – particularly a lopsided one – over Cameroon should still see them get through to the quarterfinals, and at that point, who knows?
1) Brazil was much more organized in the back
The second game saw Jorge Barcellos’ team look like a 3-5-2 throughout the contest. Erika sat in the middle with Renata Costa and Bruna on either side of her, which allowed Maurine and Fabiana to try to get forward and help the attack. You can argue whether it worked or not, obviously they struggled to score, but at least they kept some kind of shape. And it’s hard to argue with their defensive record in the last two major tournaments. If Abby Wambach did not score the goal to even the quarterfinal at the end of extra time, Brazil would have allowed one goal (an own goal) in 570 minutes of action. Numbers don’t lie. Usually.
2) Betsy Hassett made the most of her opportunity
She didn’t start the first game for New Zealand, but was excellent in this game, especially in the first half. She’s going to be a senior at Cal, and like the rest of the Ferns showed a high workrate, but also a little bit of technical skill that they lacked in the first game. Hannah Wilkinson (now suspended for the Cameroon game) and Sarah Gregorius were again very active, but gave the Brazil defense few problems, as the shots ended 12-1 in favor of Brazil (according to FIFA).
3) Still tough to get a read on Brazil
Christiane deserves plenty of credit for the goal, even if it was a bit of a goalkeeping error/defensive miscue, as she now has 12 Olympic goals, most all-time. It’s slightly concerning that they only won this game 1-nil, but we probably won’t be able to get a great read out of their final group game with Great Britain. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Great Britain pulled the upset. But Brazil tends to play to the level of their competition, so they’ll still be dangerous come knockout time.
For those that care, 56-44 in favor of Brazil (slightly dubious).