Brazil vs Uruguay: Five things we learned as Neymar edges Luis Suarez in feisty friendly

Brazil 1-0 Uruguay: Neymar's late penalty proved enough to claim victory in a game dominated by fouls rather than flair

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Brazil and Uruguay are two of the World Cup’s greatest dynasties but tonight at The Emirates, as they settled their rivalry upon European shores for the first time, there was little in the way of evolution to cheer.

A scrappy-first half in North London was interrupted by incessant fouling as Neymar came close for Brazil with a long-range effort and Luis Suarez forced Liverpool’s Allison into a leaping save. And in the second, Neymar's late penalty was one of few notable moments outside of Luis Suarez's flurry of rage at the decision for it to be rightfully awarded.

A game between two great teams, which neither told or showed us much at all.

Here are five things we learned for the game...

Lucas Torreira was one of five players to pick up a yellow card in the first half

Old-fashioned feistiness stifles skill…

A team whose feistiness was slowly being replaced by flair, whose ruggedness was evolving into riches of skill. That is what had been said of Uruguay. South America made Messi’s metamorphic take on the game, Coutinho’s cute dribbling and Paolo Dybala’s lethal panache, the stars of late who have been crafted on the continent yet refined in Europe.

But here the exchange became a little less one-sided. Uruguay reverting to an old and rather more thuggish ilk, Brazil rather more brutish than Neymar’s shrieks might suggest. In the first half alone there were 21 fouls and five yellow cards which scuppered the flow of this game. And in the end, such crudeness was all which could separate the two teams, a wild kick by Uruguay’s left-back Laxalt into Danilo’s heel allowing Neymar to score from the penalty spot.

Suarez can outlast his revered contemporaries…

At 31-years-old it seemed, but for a brief second, that Luis Suarez had lost his touch, if not his nibble. The Uruguayan had scored just four goals in nine games for Barcelona to start this season, leading to his public admission that the Catalan club were already sourcing his replacement.

But since then the striker has responded with a hat-trick against Real Madrid and another two against Rayo Vallecano. And as the likes of his great contemporaries such as Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski wilt and wind down on their precocious careers, the controversial gnasher proved why he will outlast them.

Even if bleeding agility, he instructed his team’s every move as their leader, was the game's most passionate player and teethed his way into Brazil's defence on a number of occasions, most notably forcing Allison into a leaping save in the first half after a whipped strike from the edge of the box.

The former Liverpool man may well have passed his peak, but he remains a player who is far from stale and, in fact, has a sell-by-date which may well just run many more years.

Luis Suarez was typically fiery

Neymar remains sartorial yet short of substance…

Thirteen minutes gone, a sizzle of light stepovers and three Uruguay players were left in his wake. It would never be long before the fabulously narcissistic trickery of Neymar seized the spotlight and here he did so with a swerving 30-yard-drive which narrowly avoided the upright and caused the fans to erupt into a Mexican wave at the behest of the Selecao’s conductor.

Again, in the second half, a flurry of feet which sent Uruguay’s defence into meltdown, but, just as before, ultimately it came to nothing. A heaping froth of foam but with oh so little substance beneath. Golden touches to match the highlighted tufts of hair, skills to match the meticulously barbered skin fade, yet still not enough product from a player who should be the protagonist on the pitch for his performance, not his celebrity. Even his winning penalty was more notable for its extravagant run-up than its adept placement.

Neymar produced some fine trickery but little substance

Lucas Torreira typically low-key and commanding ….

Lucas Torreira had already bedded his anchor at the base of Uruguay’s midfield during the World Cup, starting against both Portugal and France in the knockout rounds. And here, although admittedly within the comforts of his home stadium, Torreira continued in the same commanding vein which made him so sought after by Arsenal.

Prodding the ball from side to side like a pendulum, hurrying defenders with the consistency of a ticking clock and hustling Neymar out of the match for much of this game. Here is a minute man who could out punch a brick wall and was a rabid flourish worthy of admiration amid an otherwise drear encounter. Not one seeking to soak in the glitz and glory like Neymar and Suarez, simply happy to grab the game by the scruff of its neck and make sure it did as it were told.

Renato Augusto proves China may just be more than a myth…

Renato Augusto lapped up the sweet samba at Corinthians, refused a return to Germany with Schalke 04 and instead sauntered to East Beijing to pick up a more than ample $500,000 monthly pay-packet. 28 years old and at the peak of his powers, having been hailed as the Bola de Ouro player of the year, critics claimed he was nothing but a huckster, a moral charlatan chasing the green of the dollar rather than Nanhu Lake’s tinged water.

Yet those who harangued Augusto can hardly claim the midfielder has got his comeuppance. Having scored against Belgium in Brazil’s ultimately failing quarter-final in Kazan, he started in the centre of midfield at the Emirates. A somewhat shared fate with Paulinho's Chinese foray, who after being chucked out by Tottenham returned to star with Barcelona no sooner. Perhaps, for all its money-centric magnetism, there is something of a higher standard to China’s football after all than one may assume.

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