Tactics and goalkeeper help Mexico hold Brazil
Herrera's tactics of using a back five and goalkeeper Ochoa's heroics silence Brazil
Brazil had high hopes for this World Cup. They planned not just to win, but to win in style.
To avenge the humiliation of 1950. To show the world that while England might have codified the game and laid claim to its origins, Brazil would always be its spiritual home.
So far, it's not really working out like that.
Another disappointing game, this time a goalless draw with the perpetual irritant Mexico this morning (Singapore time), still puts the hosts in a commanding position in Group A, but it has cast doubt on their ability to break down quality teams.
Not least because Mexico, after their shambolic qualifying campaign, were not believed to be a quality team.
But, while Brazil certainly have issues to address before their final group game against Cameroon next Tuesday morning, they can take solace from the fact that they came up against a driven and determined team, masterminded by a coach who seems a perfect fit for his nation, led by a veteran of four campaigns and inspired by a goalkeeper who put in the performance of a lifetime.
Guillermo Ochoa wasn't even expected to play for Mexico this summer.
It was widely believed that he would be the understudy to Jesus Corona, the captain of the 2012 Olympic gold medal-winning side.
Mexican supporters will be grateful that coach Miguel Herrera decided otherwise at Fortaleza this morning.
Ochoa, who has been released by his club, lowly French outfit Ajaccio, could not have placed a better advertisement for his services than this display.
The 28-year-old stopper was extraordinary, making a series of breathtaking saves, one in particular from Neymar that drew comparisons with the legendary Gordon Banks.
In 1970, Banks contorted himself in mid-air to deny Pele. Memories of that stop are so ingrained in the Brazilian consciousness that Banks' name began to trend on Twitter in the region as Ochoa's brilliance intensified.
Ochoa has said recently that he would like to play Champions League football at his next club. On the evidence of this, he'll have no problem adjusting to the levels required.
And yet, this result was not purely the result of one man's virtuoso display.
Much credit much go to his coach as well.
When Herrera took over the national side, they were in disarray, limping from one bad result to another.
The former Liga MX boss, who won 19 caps for Mexico in the 1990s, formulated a controversial plan; to revert to a back three and to favour domestic players above their overseas counterparts.
That back three became a back five at times this morning, as Mexico dropped deep to try and block up the Brazilian advance.
It was a wise strategy.
While there is no question that Luiz Felipe Scolari has quality players at his disposal, he has dispensed with the more mercurial talents - the unreliable, but spontaneous mavericks who might have been able to break down the opposition defences.
Fred hardly fits the romantic Brazilian ideal of a centre forward, while his replacement Jo doesn't even have the grace to flatter to deceive.
Brazil's hopes were left with their prodigy Neymar and the young man, who was in tears during the national anthem, could have not tried harder to make the breakthrough.
But, whenever he galloped forward, he found one Rafael Marquez in his path. The former Barcelona regular is 35 now and past his best, but his reading of the game is unsurpassed. When Neymar broke, so did Marquez. Time and time and time again.
This is not a disaster for Brazil.
They now play a woeful Cameroon side to confirm their place in the next stage.
But they would have wanted a cathartic performance to help banish memories of their rather fortunate victory over Croatia.
That they didn't get one is to the credit of, not one goalkeeper, but one well-motivated, well-drilled team.
Pele stuck in jam, misses first half
Pele was one of many who missed the first half of Brazil's World Cup match against Mexico this morning (Singapore time), after being caught in traffic as fans rushed to get home before kick-off.
"For the first time, I had to listen to the first half of a Brazil game inside a car, we were stuck in traffic," the Brazilian legend said.
Pele at least missed no goals, with the tournament favourites being held to a 0-0 draw in Fortaleza.
Much of Brazil ground to a halt for the match, with the second-largest city Sao Paulo suffering near record traffic jams.
Sao Paulo transportation authorities said that at its peak, 302km of roads and highways were backed up in the city. - Reuters.