Argentina 0-2 Brazil
11 October 2014
Bird’s Nest, Beijing, China
Scorer: Diego Tardelli (2)
Brazil may have failed in their attempt to become official world champions this year, but they can now claim to be unofficial champions, after defeating Argentina 2-0 in China. This was a much more confident Brazil side than the one that flopped as host nation at the World Cup. Led by the brilliance of Neymar, and with two goals from new striker Diego Tardelli, the Seleção are the new UFWC champions.
This so-called friendly match was the latest Superclásico de las Américas derby between Argentina and Brazil, this one played more than 10,000 miles away from South America in Beijing. The stunning Beijing National Stadium, or Bird’s Nest, was built for the 2008 Olympic Games. It’s record attendance was achieved in August of that year, for the men’s gold medal football match, which saw Argentina beat Nigeria 1-0. The goalscorer was Angel di Maria, who played again today.
Argentina went into today’s game as unofficial champions having taken the UFWC title from official champions Germany last month. That win was achieved without Lionel Messi, but the Barcelona player was back for this match in Beijing. Gerardo Martino gave an international debut to Juventus midfielder Roberto Pereyra, playing alongside Di Maria and Javier Mascherano, in support of Messi, Erik Lamela and Sergio Aguero.
Brazil had followed up their World Cup disappointment with successive 1-0 victories over Colombia and Ecuador. New manager Dunga sprung a surprise by recalling 32-year-old midfielder Kaka after an 18-month absence from the national set-up. Kaka was on the bench alongside another returning star Robinho. Both made cameo appearances as substitutes. Goalkeeper Jefferson started, with David Luiz replacing Marquinhos in defence, and Elias replacing Ramires in midfield. Diego Tardelli, named after the former Italian international Marco Tardelli, started as a lone striker, supported by captain Neymar.
Argentina captain Messi looked subdued throughout the match, contributing only a couple of off-target free-kick shots in the early stages, and then being clattered by David Luiz. Instead, Di Maria looked Argentina’s most creative player, and it was the Manchester United man who went closest for Argentina, firing just over the crossbar in the 19th minute.
Brazil seemed content to hit Argentina on the break, and the tactic paid off in the 27th minute, when Diego Tardelli exploited slack defending to fire past Sergio Romero. Brazil almost doubled their lead a couple of minutes later, when Neymar raced away from the defence, only to fluff his finish.
Argentina had a perfect chance to equalise when referee Fan Qi awarded a very soft penalty for a supposed foul by Danilo on Di Maria. Replays suggested Danilo had got the ball, and justice seemed to be served when Jefferson saved Lionel Messi’s penalty. At half-time the score remained 1-0 to Brazil.
Atlético Mineiro striker Tardelli got his second goal of the match, and the second of his international career, in the 64th minute, when he was unmarked to head home at the far post following a Neymar corner. More poor defending from Argentina, who struggled to cause Brazil problems, and were reduced to making niggling fouls. A Messi free kick, pushed around the post by Jefferson, was the nearest Argentina came to getting back into the game. The final score was 2-0 to Brazil.
This was Brazil’s 30th UFWC title match win. This reign’s first defence of the UFWC title will be this Tuesday, 14 October, when Brazil play Japan in Singapore. Japan were unofficial champions as recently as 2011, and have won 11 UFWC title matches.
With Christmas on the horizon, why not treat someone you know – or yourself – to the official UFWC book, Unofficial Football World Champions, which contains a complete history of the unofficial competition from the first ever international match in 1872 right up to 2014. It’s available in paperback and as an eBook, and is out now.