Yesterday Santos played to a scoreless draw away against Cruzeiro in a thoroughly entertaining game. The end to end action saw chances a plenty for both teams. However, due to some exceptional goalkeeping - and some poor finishing - the game ended scoreless.
Luxa started with this lineup for the 1st half
From the outset the obvious problem was Madson’s playing centrally. He came up against Fabinho who I was looking to “eat” Madson at any moment, such was the size difference. Madson was generally taken out of most attacks unless he drifted wide. Germano had an average game out wide, but Lucas was superb in his debut. Pará- was often the goat and many of Cruzeiro’s attacks came down the left side. Santos were defending for most of the 1st half, but the performance of Mancha, Souto and Fabão took care of most of the attacks. Fabão did an admirable job in man marking Kleber. Whatever they missed Felipe took care of. The attacking outlet was either the middle or through P.H. Lima or Lucas on the wings. Santos’ best chance of the half was a cross from Lucas to Souto who headed wide from 4 yards.
In the second half Madson moved out wide and P.H. Lima became the second striker. Gaso was better able to deal with Fabinho’s physicality and we had more success in the middle of the field. Notable Madson and Gaso - as well as Germano and Mancha - were switching positions throughout the game which opened a lot of space for players running through.
The game was now being played at a frantic pace and Cruzeiro were taking advantage of Pará’s defensive liabilities to attack mostly down the left. Kleber became more involved as he drifted wide to help augment Cruzeiro’s play. This is where Felipe can into his own. Time after time he stumped the Cruzeiro attack with superhuman saves which showed why Luxa put his faith in him. Two great chances for Madson and K. Pereira were saved by the equally impressive Fabio. Then came the chance of the game. A defense cutting pass from P.H. Lima found K. Pereira free of his defenders on the edge of the box. Instead of shooting himself he decided to pass to Madson who duly buried the ball in the back of the net. The only problem was that he was offside. Amateur decision making from Pereira.
Later in the game Neymar came in for Madson, Robson came on for Germano, and Triguinho replaced Lucas. The three subs didn’t manage to affect the game. Triguinho gave away a foolish free kick in extra time which thankfully didn’t end in a goal.
Overall a good performance away from home which bodes well for the next match.
Player Ratings (out of 10)
Felipe - 9: An exceptional performance from the new number 1. Pulled off a number of fantastic saves to keep Santos in the game. My Man of the Match.
George Lucas - 8: A great debut from the new right back. His positioning was crucial to stopping a number of attacks down the right side, and his tackling was something to behold. Provided a beautiful cross for Souto in the first half. He was marked down for getting a silly yellow card. He was visibly tired at the match wore on and was replaced by Triguinho for the last 10 minutes.
Fabão - 7: An unusually good performance. Broke up a number of dangerous attacks in the middle of the defense and marked Kleber out of a good portion of the game.
Eli Sabiá - 6: Went about his business without much fuss. A solid performance.
Pará -5: Most of Cruzeiro’s attacks come down the left due to his terribly positioning. He made a few good recoveries but overall it was a disappointing display.
Germano - 6: Continued with his habit of losing the ball, and was quite ineffectual out on the right hand side of midfield in the first half when attacking. He was more comfortable when defending, as he -along with George Lucas - neutralized most of the attacks down the right side. In the second half he occasionally switched places with Rodrigo Mancha. He was subbed for Robson late in the second half.
Rodrigo Souto - 6.5: He had a solid performance in the middle of the park. Broke up attacks and was tidy in his passing. One of those “invisible” performances that marks a good game for a volante. He did miss an easy header from about 4 yards out. He also got a stupid yellow card.
Rodrigo Mancha - 7: See above (minus the missed header and the yellow card).
P.H. Lima- 7: At times struggled to get into the match, but made good runs. He showed flashes of creativity both on the wing in the first half and as a second striker in the second.
Madson - 6: Not up to his usual standards, struggled in the first half as a second striker. Had a better game in the second half as he played on the wings. He would have scored if not for an excellent save from Fabio. He was replaced by Neymar for the last 15 minutes.
Kleber Pereira - 3.5: An absolutely awful game. Continues to mystify me of his selection for each game. Continually lost the ball, his finishing was poor, and he stifled the attack anytime he dropped back into midfield. Not to mention his passing to ball to an offside Madson instead of shooting at goal when he had a clear chance.
Neymar - 5: Did not get into the match for the 15 minutes he was on for.
Robson - 5: Plugged the hole left by Germano. He did nothing special.
Triguinho - 4.5: He did fine until he gave away stupid free kick in the last minute and earned himself a yellow card.
Next up for Santos is Gremio - who demolished Flamengo - at home. The attack is staring to flow and the defense is improving. There is now reason this game cannot produce a favorable result.