Neymar and Ronaldinho Lead Brazil to 4-0 Victory Over Bolivia

Brazilian national football team player Neymar (front) vies for the ball with Edwar Zenteno of Bolivia during their friendly
Brazilian national football team player Neymar (front) vies for the ball with Edwar Zenteno of Bolivia during their friendly football match in Santa Cruz, Bolivia on April 6, 2013. AFP PHOTO/Aizar Raldes (Photo credit should read AIZAR RALDES/AFP/Getty Images)

Brazil pranced to their first victory under newly appointed coach Luis Felipe Scolari with an impressive 4-0 win over Bolivia in Santa Cruz de la Sierra on Saturday. Scolari opted for a 4-2-2-2 formation with Paulinho and Ralf behind Ronaldinho and Jadson, who in turn were positioned behind Neymar and Leandro Damiao. Scolari gave Ronaldinho both the number 10 jersey and the captain's armband in a clear signal that team leadership belonged to him in contrast to Neymar, the second most experienced member of a Brazil squad composed entirely of domestically-based players. Ronaldinho commanded the midfield and orchestrated attacks with his trademark vision of the entire run of play by picking out both Damiao and Neymar and delivering threatening curling balls into the box from free-kicks.

Leandro Damiao opened the scoring in the 5th minute by latching onto a pass from the right flank delivered by Jean, who played in an unfamiliar position as a right fullback. Damiao's goal failed to open the floodgates but it was Ronaldinho's magic in an attacking midfield position that tilted the match decidedly in Brazil's favor. First, a Ronaldinho free kick led to a scramble in the box followed by a Brazil goal that was deemed offside. Minutes later, however, Ronaldinho sent a flick through to Neymar on the left flank who, in turn, flicked the ball over the Bolivian keeper to make it 2-0 Brazil in the 31st minute. Ten minutes later, Neymar converted his second goal of the match when Jadson delivered a bullet of a cross from the right flank that Neymar directed into the roof of the net with a perfectly timed touch.

After conceding three goals in the first half, Bolivia dominated possession in the opening 20 minutes of the second half but failed to produce any high percentage shots on goal. Vasco da Gama's Dede impressively marshalled the Brazilian defense alongside Rever and showed that Scolari has plenty of options to complement the pairing of Thiago Silva and David Luiz in central defense. Scolari himself commented on the quality of Brazil's centrebacks by noting:

All centrebacks I call up end up living up to the expectations and that was Réver's case too. I already have four or five centrebacks fighting for the same position, and I can take four [for the Confederations Cup], so that's great.

After the first half, Scolari substituted Neymar and Damiao with Osvaldo and Alexandre Pato. Despite Pato's invisibility for almost the entire second half, Brazil remained lively thanks to the combined efforts of Ronaldinho, Jadson, Osvaldo and Paulinho, the latter of whom initiated Brazil's fourth goal by bringing the ball forward and enabling a cross to Palmeiras youngster Leandro, who confidently struck the ball deep into the roof of the net to make it 4-0. Leandro's goal capped an impressive performance by Brazil which, despite fielding only domestic players, is brimming with talent in defensive and midfield positions. Brazil next plays Chile on April 24 as they prepare for the Confederations Cup in June. Like the Bolivia match, the Brazil-Chile friendly on April 24 will feature only domestically-based players as it does not fall on a designated FIFA calendar date.

Brazil: Leandro Damiao (5), Neymar (31, 42), Leandro (90)

Starting Lineups
Brazil: Jefferson (GK), Santos, Dedé, Réver, Jean, Jádson, Paulinho, Ralf, Ronaldinho, Leandro Damião, Neymar
Bolivia: Galarza (GK), Eguino, Zenteno, Bejarano, Melean, Campos, Bejarano, Moreno, Arce, Rojas, Veizaga