World Cup 2018, Brazil 2-0 Mexico: 3 key takeaways from the game
Despite several people predicting (hoping, to be honest) that Brazil would be the next high-profile victim of the tournament, they advanced to the next round courtesy of a calm and comfortable 2-0 win against Mexico.
Mexico bravely managed to keep the Brazilians off the scoreboard till the first half, but two second-half goals - one each from Neymar and Firmino was enough to take the game away from them. Mexico played a brave game but did not have the quality in the final third to make life difficult for Brazil.
Brazil will no face either Belgium or Japan in the quarter-finals and will be hoping it is the latter. Here are 3 major takeaways from the game:
#1 Willian's timely arrival to form
Willian had blown hot and cold in the group stage, and after a fantastic season with Chelsea, it looked like the midfielder might get taken off the starting XI. His replacement - Douglas Costa came on against Costa Rica and impressed mightily, but an untimely injury to him have Willian one more chance to prove his worth.
It is safe to say that Willian has taken the shot and come out of the other end on his feet. He was, by a long distance, the best player on the field and his inspired performance in the face of strong opposition was what led to the first goal.
He was also a force to be reckoned on the right wing, and his increased impetus to run forward proved to a great boost for the team. It also meant that Coutinho could orchestrate proceedings from the back, instead of leaving the midfield exposed.
He completed 7 dribbles during the match and completed 31 out of 38 passes including 3 key passes. His two shots on target - one of them a weak attempt after a great run, were saved by Ochoa. Another aspect of his game was using his body to shield the ball from the Mexicans during his runs, instead of letting the ball get too far away from him.