Despite the stalemate, Tite’s side advanced to the knockouts as the top-ranked team from Group B.

Brazil’s perfect start to Copa America 2021 came to a halt as they drew Ecuador on Monday early morning. Tite’s side went into the half-time after Eder Militao netted a goal in the first half. However, Angel Mena restored parity in the second half as Ecuador held the defending champions to a draw.

Having qualified for the quarterfinals, Brazil now sit on top of Group B with 10 points from four games. Ecuador, on the other hand, have qualified following Mena’s equalizer and Venezula’s loss against Peru. Gustavo Alfaro’s side qualify as the fourth-best team in Group B and could likely face Argentina in the next round.

Here are five key things we learned as Brazil were handed their first draw of Copa America 2021 against Ecuador on Monday early morning.

5. Brazil’s set-piece brilliance on display yet again

Ever since Tite took over, the Selecao have been doing very well in their set-pieces. With the likes of Marquinhos, Casemiro and Thiago Silva attacking the box, Brazil’s efficiency in set-pieces have significantly increased. Similarly, having quality players like Neymar on the ball has only helped.

In Copa America 2021, three out of Brazil’s 10 goals have come from set-pieces. Against Venezuela, they scored from another dead-ball situation. Militao scored to give Brazil the lead after Pervis Estupinan conceded a foul. The Real Madrid centre-back moved just in time to get ahead of Robert Arboleda in the 37th minute.

4. Lucas Paqueta’s impressive preformance

Lucas Paqueta impressed in his second Copa America 2021 start for Brazil

The 23-year-old has been this edition’s breakout performer for Brazil. The Olympique Lyonnais midfielder made the most out of his first start in the tournament and delivered a composed performance in midfield.

Paqueta was named in the starting line-up as Tite decided to bench his first-choice players, including Neymar, ahead of the knockouts. He completed 34 out of 37 passes and helped retain the ball in midfield. Additionally, he created two big chances, most by any Brazilian in the match.

Paqueta’s presence helped Brazil soak up the Ecuadorian pressure, as he won six ground duels and made three tackles in the middle third. Continuing his impressive performance after coming off the bench against Colombia, Paqueta has increased his chances of starting Brazil’s next game.

3. Ecuador’s intensity and the equalizer

After trailing in the first half, Ecuador came prepared with increased intensity in the second half. Having managed just one shot on target with just 29% of possession in the first 45 minutes, they committed men forward and showed attacking intent after restart.

They eventually found the net as Angel Mena headed home from a set-piece. Taking advantage of Brazil’s failure to clear a loose ball, Mena scored past Alisson to restore equity. Although Brazil’s inclusion of some fresh legs made things relatively difficult later on, Ecuador were the better of the two in the second half.

2. Ecuadorian midfield’s solid performance

Coming into a match where a loss was unacceptable, Ecuador’s midfield played its part and calmed things down. Although Lucas Paqueta was having a great game at the other end, Jhegson Mendez, Angel Mena and Diego Palacios stood out for Ecuador.

The Ecuadorian midfield was responsible for winning and distributing balls early in the second half. The pressure built on Brazil was based on Ecuador’s ability to quickly transition, possibly due to Mendez’s performance. Completing 48 passes with an accuracy of 96%, the Orlando City midfielder delivered four lethal long balls to keep the attack ticking.

Similarly, Angel Mena delivered a stellar performance after coming on for injured Moises Caicedo in the 17th minute. Caicedo completed 23 passes with the same accuracy as Mendez and was a livewire when Ecuador moved vertically towards the Brazilian half.

Neymar was an unused substitute in Brazil’s final group game against Ecuador

Neymar has been sensational for Brazil lately. The PSG star has scored two, assisted as many and created 12 chances so far in Copa America 2021. Despite having loads of talent in their attacking department, it was apparent that Neymar was the foremost link for Brazil.

Brazil’s attack in the first half looked disjointed as Roberto Firminho, tasked to take care of the number 10 position looked off. Neymar, on contrary, has looked very sharp in this role under Tite. Additionally, Neymar’s ability to drift from the left and cause havoc has been key to most of Brazil’s promising moves. It would not be an understatement to say that almost everything goes through Neymar in this setup.

However, in absence of the number 10, who was benched to avoid second yellow suspense, things did not seem to click. Brazil’s only goal came from a set-piece and were not able to create many of chances.

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