Fernandinho the right choice for Brazil
Brazil were a different team in the second half in their victory over Cameroon. Why? Many reasons, but a lot of it came down to Fernandinho. He replaced Paulinho at halftime and in the second half, every time, Fernandinho presented himself to receive the ball, and it helped the team greatly. Paulinho is clearly anxious, tense and lacking in confidence. He committed too many errors in the first half, and Brazil's only buildup was through long balls from Thiago Silva and David Luiz.
In the second half, neither Silva nor Luiz had to launch it forward at all. Fernandinho stamped his involvement almost every time as defense turned into attack.
Fernandinho scored the goal that secured the Under-20 world title in 2003. He plays with the experience of someone who has this on his track record. It is almost as if Fernandinho is saying: "This is the World Cup? So what?"
The Seleção found the cure in the second half, and they'll need to play in the same manner against Chile on Saturday. Don't forget that the Dutch side defeated the Chileans, but it was Jorge Sampaoli's team that dominated possession (64 percent). Without an outlet to keep the ball on the ground, Brazil won't be able to play against Chile.
Brazil weren't perfect, but they improved with Fernandinho bringing the ball out and, mainly, in their pressing game. The Seleção began the game against Cameroon with 12 percent of the goals scored in manager Luiz Felipe Scolari's era having come as a result of pressing the ball. They finished the game with 16 percent. Putting pressure on the ball is vital. Keeping the ball, even more so.
Grades (scale of 1-10):
BRASIL (4-2-3-1): 12. Júlio César (6), 2. Dani Alves (4), 3. Thiago Silva (7), 4. David Luiz (6) and 6. Marcelo (6.5); 17. Luiz Gustavo (5.5) and 8. Paulinho (4) (5. Fernandinho, halftime, 7.5); 7. Hulk (6) (16. Ramires, 17 minutes of the 2nd half, 6), 11. Oscar (6) and 10. Neymar (8) (19. William 25 minutes of the 2nd half, 6); 9. Fred (6.5).
FIFA's man of the match -- Neymar
PVC's man of the match -- Neymar
Paulo Vinicius Coelho ("PVC") is a veteran Brazilian sports journalist who has covered four World Cups and five Champions League finals. He is a football specialist, ESPN commentator in Brazil and columnist for Folha de S. Paulo, a popular Brazilian daily. He has written six books, including "Bola Fora," a history of the exodus of Brazilian players. Follow him on Twitter @pvcespn.