Five things we learned from England's goalless draw with 2018 World Cup favourites Brazil

The Independent

England held Brazil to a goalless draw on Tuesday night, in a hard-working, defensive performance.

Playing a three-man defence which often looked suspiciously like a flat-back five, England successfully stifled their illustrious opponents in the first-half, with both sides having just one shot on goal.

Things did open up in the second-half with Brazil having a number of opportunities to break the deadlock, but England held firm.

Here are five things we learned from the friendly.

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Joe Hart doesn’t disappointment

Hart had a good game in goal for England (Getty)
Hart had a good game in goal for England (Getty)

England’s established number one is undoubtedly feeling the pressure. As if West Ham’s disastrous run of form wasn’t bad enough, the performance of Jordan Pickford against Germany last week did even more to suggest that Hart’s international days are numbered.

But he did well enough against Brazil. He had a very quiet first-half, although performed well with the ball at his feet. In the second,

Gareth Southgate is a pragmatist

Southgate set his team up to frustrate Brazil (Getty)
Southgate set his team up to frustrate Brazil (Getty)

‘Prestige friendly’ or not – Southgate was determined not to lose this game. England spent a long portion of this game playing with a flat five-man defence and, when they sporadically found themselves in possession, they were hesitant to commit bodies forward.

It made for a boring spectacle – but Brazil played a full-strength side and would have torn this team to pieces if Southgate had waved his players forward. He will surely be pleased with the robustness of this display.

Brazil’s feared front-line fail to click

Neymar wasn't at his best (Getty)
Neymar wasn't at his best (Getty)

Neymar, Gabriel Jesus, Philippe Coutinho: three-man attacks don’t come much better but Brazil’s failed to really click against England, despite this being anything but Southgate’s strongest team.

Tite really needs to develop a plan B. Brazil will come up against better sides than England in Russia; how will he respond if his preferred forwards fail to come up with the goods in a more competitive match?

Kyle Walker’s place is no longer guaranteed

Walker is battling with Trippier for the right-back spot (Getty)
Walker is battling with Trippier for the right-back spot (Getty)

Manchester City full-back Walker is another England player who must be looking nervously over his shoulder. Like Hart, he performed reasonably well against Brazil but he didn’t storm forward as much as he would have liked, either.

Kieran Trippier’s superb form for Tottenham could see him preferred to his former Tottenham team-mate by the time the 2018 World Cup finally rolls around. Both must now continue to kick on in the Premier League for their respective clubs.

Casemiro is the heartbeat of this Brazil side

Casemiro had a good game in the middle of the park (Getty)
Casemiro had a good game in the middle of the park (Getty)

Brazil’s most important player heading into the 2018 World Cup isn’t Neymar, Marcelo or Jesus – it’s Casemiro, the hard-working Real Madrid midfielder who does all of the unfashionable work in the middle of the pitch.

He was one of the best players on display in this friendly, strong in the tackle and a crucial link between Brazil’s defence and attack. He unsurprisingly dominated the likes of Jake Livermore and showed just how important he is for club and country.

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